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Cycle or support a cycler: Raising money to fight childhood cancer

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Cathy Dobson  

Sarnia firefighter Roel Bus is grabbing his cycling helmet today and preparing to ride 100 kilometres to help end childhood cancer.

He’s hoping to crack all his personal records in the Great Cycle Challenge for SickKids Hospital.

Bus says he’s out to show cancer who’s boss and today is key.

Rain or shine, this is the only day of the month-long fundraiser when every donation in support of a Great Cycle participant is matched dollar-for-dollar by the Garron family to a maximum of $1.3 million.

The Garrons have been donating $1.3 million every year since the Great Cycle Challenge started to help combat cancer in Canada. 

In 2010, after the death of their 13-year-old son from cancer, the Garrons donated $30 million to establish the Garron Family Cancer Centre and continue to generously support it.

An estimated 1,700 Canadian children are diagnosed with cancer each year and three die from it every week. 

“That is staggering to me,” said Bus. 

Sarnia firefighter Roel Bus. (Submitted photo)

SickKids treats about 25% of all childhood cancer across the country at the Garron Family Cancer Centre.

“I don’t have any lived experience with childhood cancer, thank goodness,” said Bus who began participating in the annual challenge eight years ago. “So I ride in memory of my mother.”

Hanneke Bus died from pancreatic cancer in 2012.

Today Bus joins thousands of cyclists across the country, including 136 in the Sarnia area. They have the month of August to raise enough money to meet their individual Great Cycle goals but Aug. 9 is the only day that donations will be matched.

Bus, who normally tries to cycle 30 kilometres a day toward his goal, intends to complete 100 kilometres today and surpass the $15,000 mark raised during his eight years of participation.

He’s pretty confident he’ll do it, having already raised $14,427 since 2015.

Bus is this year’s local challenge champ and is in charge of promoting as much participation and fundraising as possible.

He said it’s not too late to join the ride at any time this month and it’s never too late to donate. Just go online to www.greatcyclechallenge.ca and find Sarnia under “Chapters.” All ages are welcome. Toddlers on tricycles and even uni-cyclists have been known to get in on it. Stationary inside trainers are also eligible.

As local champ, Bus is listed at the top of the Sarnia participants. So is a newly-formed team of local firefighters.

“We just decided Monday to create the team,” he said.  “So far, there are only two of us but I think there will be more.” 

Firefighter Shawn Schinkel signed up Monday and is already attracting pledges.

Together, Sarnia area riders have raised $17,339  so far this year and cycled 5,1254 kilometres. 

There’s still three weeks to go, but today’s the big push. 

“If you are so inclined, donate now before you forget,” Bus said. 




2022 – In a ground-breaking study led by Dr. Xi Huang, Senior Scientist in Developmental & Stem Cell Biology at SickKids, a team uncovered the mechanics of the blood-tumour barrier, one of the most significant obstacles to improving treatment efficacy and preventing the return of cancerous cells. This work lays the foundation for more effectively treating medulloblastoma, the most common malignant paediatric brain tumour. 

2021 – Research at SickKids, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the University of Toronto proves that inhibiting a key enzyme that controls a large network of proteins important in cell division and growth paves the way for a new class of drugs that could stop glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer, from growing. 

2020 – Researchers at SickKids developed a novel anti-cancer drug protein, which could lead to the development of future therapies for what was previously considered an “undruggable” target.

2019 – SickKids research helps advance how individuals with a rare form of brain cancer are treated based on age group.

2018 – Dr. Sumit Gupta and team publish results suggesting that childhood cancer survivors are at a higher risk of mental health events.

2018 – Drs. Uri Tabori and Cynthia Hawkins build a database cataloguing low-grade gliomas in children over time. The team can now better predict the life expectancy and therapy protocols for future patients.

2017 – Dr. Michael Taylor helps discover 12 new subtypes of the most common, malignant brain tumours in children: medulloblastoma.

2017 – Drs. Eric Bouffet and Daniel Morgenstern lead the first immunotherapy clinical trial to treat an aggressive predisposition syndrome that result in hypermutant tumours.

2016 – Dr. Michael Taylor and his team discover major molecular differences between the metastases of medulloblastoma tumours and the primary tumour. These will inform what drugs to use for patients who relapse.

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