BY FRANK ADAMSON
Special to the VOICE
Last year Larry Boggio and I raised over $30,000 for Wellspring Niagara by cycling from Toronto to Miami. Not keen on returning this year we decided to resurrect a ride around Lake Ontario called the Tour du Lac, a fundraiser developed by the Rotary Club of St. Catharines, South in 2012. My plan was to have all 14 Rotary Clubs in Niagara participate by providing donations, cyclists and support drivers. This plan was embraced and the Tour du Lac was resurrected.
Over six and a half days and 913.97 kilometres later, eight cyclists and I, who set out to ride around Lake Ontario to raise money for Wellspring Niagara, returned home on Sunday, July 23.
We were joined by two day-riders from the Wellspring Headquarters the previous Saturday and six day-riders who joined us for the last stretch, were escorted home by the NRPS and greeted by cheers, applause and high fives as we rode into Hunter’s Pointe community in Welland, where Lucchetta Homes provided a community BBQ fundraiser. Three volunteers were with us to make sure we were taken care of, fed, watered and transported.
We were hugged by waiting family, friends and Wellspring volunteers and were all glad to get off of our backsides after 6-8 hour days of cycling. We had a great time, great riders great support drivers and welcoming hospitality provided by Rotary Clubs in Kingston, and American Clubs in Webster, Albion, Medina and Lockport, N.Y.
The ride was to support cancer survivors and their loved ones who use Wellspring Niagara’s services. When things got tough — whether it was weather or the ride itself— we each reflected on who they were doing it for.
Every day before setting out one of the riders dedicated the ride to someone they knew who was fighting cancer or had lost the battle to cancer, and read notes of encouragement from survivors using the services of Wellspring Niagara. No matter how hot the day and through headwinds and showers and hills these words of inspiration and encouragement made a world of difference and gave us the impetus to carry on knowing our discomfort over one week was a fraction of the pain and suffering of people living with cancer.
Terry Purser, from Thorold, is one of the survivors, called Wellspring Warriors, who wrote notes for the riders. One very touching note read:
“Dear Riders, Remember… Broken Crayons still colour! Many Thanks. Terry.
“Their ride is similar to our challenge,” he said of fighting cancer and having to endure through tough times.
He said many in his family, including his son, have had cancer, and he’s now battling prostate cancer and will be in treatment for at least another year. Having Wellspring Niagara available as additional support is something he says in invaluable to him. He first heard about the organization through the Niagara Health System and is grateful for the wealth of support groups and different support services for him and his family.
Joe Matthews, chair of the board for Wellspring Niagara, used those services himself during his own battle with cancer in 2002. He knows how important they are to cancer survivors and their families and said that none of it would be possible without support from the community.
“They’re vital to what we do,” he said, noting that the organization doesn’t receive any government funding and relies solely on the support of the public.
The funds raised from the Tour Du Lac, which started at Wellspring Niagara headquarters a week earlier, will be going toward building the new Wellspring Niagara centre in East Fonthill. Our goal was to raise $100,000 to put toward the $5 million capital campaign to build a bigger facility.
I would like to thank our Corporate Sponsors of the ride who ensured that all monies raised are going to the capital campaign. Over $22,500 was provided by Willowbrook Nurseries, The Rotary Club of Fonthill, Kwik Fit Niagara, The Boggio Family of Pharmacies, and Root Bissonnette Walker LLP Chartered Professional Accountants, all located in Pelham.
Funds are still coming in and with the help of the 14 Rotary Clubs in Niagara, the Rotary Club of Dunnville and citizens of Pelham I am confident that we will reach our objective.
To make a contribution for a most worthy cause, Google: wellspring.ca/niagara/tourdulac