For the past five years, Basil Jones has been cycling his way towards the cure for childhood cancer.
After losing his two-year-old great niece to cancer, he realized it was “a heartbreak you just never get over," and wanted to do his part to make a change. He now participates every year in the Great Cycle Challenge, a fundraiser that raises awareness and funds for the Sick Kids Foundation.
With over 36,000 riders across Canada, the Great Cycle Challenge has already raised over $1 million for the cause.
Jones hopes that riders in Sault Ste. Marie will consider joining him in this nationwide challenge.
“I know that this year a lot of new bikes have been sold and there’s a lot of new riders here. I feel like this may give them another chance to ride and feel like they’re accomplishing a little more than just the ride itself,” he said. “I’m hoping to get the word out there for cyclists around town to participate, or even to encourage their friends to do it.”
How the Great Cycle Challenge works is simple. Riders set a personal goal for themselves and try to reach that goal throughout the month, logging their progress online or on the Great Cycle Challenge Canada app. Friends and family of the riders can then donate and raise funds for childhood cancer research.
Jones says that the most rewarding part is seeing the accomplishments and the amount of riders that the Great Cycle Challenge has each year. Learning about the different stories and struggles of families that have kids that are fighting the terrible disease encourages him to help raise money for research and treatment.
“All of these poor kids have a big smile on their faces even though they’re fighting so hard to beat it. I’m hoping to continue riding in this challenge for as long as I’m able to, I’m 65 years old now and people are riding into their 80s so I can’t see myself stopping any time soon. It pulls at your heartstrings, once you get involved it’s hard not to stay involved,” he said.
Local bike shops, Velorution, Algoma Bicycle Company, and Duke of Windsor each have posters with more information on the event.