At 7:00 PM on Thursday, November 5, Blake Wheeler and his family will go live from Focus Fitness at Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Iceplex in a ‘Party with a Purpose’, helping celebrate the funds raised for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation during this year’s running of Ride Inside: Wheel with the Wheelers.
The annual event is back for 2020, despite the ongoing global pandemic. Although the spectacle will look slightly different than past iterations, the goal remains the same: fundraising in an effort to support PROFYLE at CancerCare Manitoba. PROFYLE is a compound acronym, standing for PRecision Oncology For Young people – an initiative allowing Manitoba’s youngest cancer patients the best opportunities and treatment methods in their respective battles against hard-to-beat childhood cancers.
“We know that the 2020 event looks and feels different, but what hasn’t changed is the cause: helping families impacted by cancer,” Winnipeg Jets captain and presenting sponsor Blake Wheeler said. “We learned first-hand last year just how important it is to raise funds and help support young people with rare and hard to treat cancer.”
“Last year blew us away,” reflected Wheeler’s wife, Sam. “We were so impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm and commitment to fundraising, as were our kids, Louie, Leni and Mase. We hope you will join us this November from your home or office for a ‘Party with a Purpose’. We all need to do everything we can to help young people. They are really counting on us.”
Last year, the event raised $250K, and despite the differences in structure, organizers are hoping for similar results this time around.
“Just because COVID-19 showed up, it doesn’t mean that cancer went away,” said Sherelle Kwan, Community Events Manager for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. “Although trying to appreciate that COVID has made things look very different for many people, we are still aiming to raise the same amount this year. The Wheeler family are doing fundraising as well – the kids are actually doing a fabulous job too.”
Despite restrictions based on the current landscape, the decision was made to ensure that Ride Inside could move forward.
“Essentially, we have shifted from planning an event that was physically over 300 people to being an online celebration,” Kwan added. “Unfortunately, COVID is here, but obviously cancer didn’t go away, and there are still these young Manitobans who have been impacted with very hard to treat cancers. So we came up with a way to livestream the event, so teams can gather faithfully, whether they want to do it in person – while following the Manitoba guidelines and restrictions around COVID-19 – or if they want to gather with their teams virtually. We still want teams to gather, but to do it in a safe way.”
What participants are asked to do is put together small teams and find fun ways to fundraise for the biking event. Although being held indoors with stationary bikes, bike stands, as well as many other means necessary, teams are to get creative with costumes, fundraising ideas and/or other activities to help support the cause. Awards will be presented for outstanding fundraising, decorations, and best team costumes.
Individuals, school groups, friends and teams have already signed up for the cause, with a high emphasis on hockey teams. A number of Winnipeg-based community clubs have multiple horses in the race, while two prominent members of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League have also already entered their teams into the mix.
“Ride Inside is a great opportunity for teams to get together and work towards earning money to kill cancer,” said Winnipeg Blues team captain Brayden Foreman. “Whether you’re doing it by yourself, or as a whole team you’re making a difference. I would encourage everybody to get up and participate to help make a change and do what we can to raise awareness towards cancer. Teams can use this opportunity as a team builder while also doing a good deed.”
The Blues, as well as the MJHL’s newest team, the Winnipeg Freeze will be participants in Ride Inside this Novemebr 5th.
“Obviously like everything else going on in the world right now, Ride Inside will be a little bit different,” Foreman added. “But that doesn’t take away the excitement and the opportunity for teams to get together and raise money for a great cause. Most people you talk to have been affected in some way by cancer, whether it’s a family member or a friend. So this really hits close to home for a lot of people.”
With the FMG Dragon Boating Festival – another signature CancerCare Manitoba Foundation event that raises funds for childhood cancer – cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, many of the teams that typically participate in the dragon boating event have entered their group for Ride Inside.
One of those members is 20-year-old Dane Hantscher, who at age seven was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – a fast-acting form of cancer, in which bone marrow produces an unusually high count of immature white blood cells, resulting in the immediate inability to fight illness/infection, and can prove fatal rather quickly if not acted upon. Now cancer-free, Hantscher will be participating in Ride Inside alongide his dragon boating teammates from Katie’s Krew.
“Every year we do dragon boating, but this year we just couldn’t because of COVID,” Hantscher said. “So to help raise funds we registered for this instead. Our team is very young, so we use social media to our advantage for fundraising; we put out lots of posts with links for people to follow and donate to our team.”
“For me, I try to do something every year to raise funds for a cure, because I had cancer and knew people at the same time that didn’t make it,” he added. “For most of us, cancer touches everyone’s life, whether it’s a family member or a friend. So that’s why we are asking you to really consider donating or participating in this great cause.”
Although this year’s running of Ride Inside will not be held with all participating groups in the same location, nor will there be communal speakers bumping out workout music and party tracks late into the night, there certainly will be plenty of smaller gatherings throughout the province, as friends, teams and individuals come together to ‘Party with a Purpose’, celebrating the funds raised for Manitoba’s youngest cancer patients, while enjoying some high-tempo exercise in the process.
To sign up as an individual, join a team, or enter your own team for the 2020 Ride Inside: Wheel with the Wheelers, visit the following link: https://support.cancercarefdn.mb.ca/site/TR/Events/General?pg=informational&fr_id=1623&type=fr_informational&sid=1300