Local resident rides for a cause 0
Eric Edwards is a passionate cyclist who rides for children, who have fought cancer and survived cancer. Edwards has ridden or volunteered in some capacity for the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation that raises money for children cancer camps. DARREN LUM/HALIBURTON ECHO/QMI AGENCY
He rides for those who cannot.
A self-employed Haliburton resident and passionate cyclist, Eric Edwards is on a perennial road to ride in the names of children, who have died or are battling cancer.
He gains so much from giving his time to the fundraising efforts of the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, which gives 100 per cent of money raised to Canadian cancer charities.
His sincerity is clear in every word, as he speaks of his commitment to the children afflicted with cancer over the nine years he has been involved with the Foundation.
It all started with a ride from Haliburton in 2004.
“I got hooked on what they were doing,” he said. “What was happening and had the time to get involved.”
Since then he has done virtually everything (driving, feeding and cleaning to name a few) for the foundation and for the children.
The event recognizes children with cancer and names them as ambassadors.
In the last five years the ride has lost an ambassador each year.
“These kids are battling their cancer. They go into remission and they get involved with the organization also. Some of the kids I’ve met … it’s been incredible,” he said.
Logging hundreds of miles a day in all kinds of weather or riding more than 7,000 kilometres in less than a month for the cross-country Sears National Kids Cancer ride is made easier thinking of the children with cancer or who have died from it.
Every day of the ride is dedicated to a child cancer survivor or one who has been lost.
“That’s what motivates riders each and every day whether it’s the Tour for Kids or the ride across Canada,” Edwards said.
A dedication is also made before each day, inspiring and reminding the participants what their efforts are for.
“The first hour on the bike your mind is thinking about what someone else has suffered,” he said.
Young people like Megan McNeil, who was diagnosed with cancer at 16 and died at 20, impressed upon him how strong, determined and courageous children can be even while facing challenge. She advocated for more funding for childhood cancer.
“[Children] are the guinea pigs. Through what they learn with the kids, older people benefit,” Edwards said, remembering what McNeil told him.
McNeil helped sing the theme song for the foundation and appeared on television.
In 2009, while on the road in Thunder Bay they heard of the passing of a boy they had visited with years before. They paid respects to his family at the funeral in Wawa. The entire group attended in their team uniforms.
“Having that happen on the ride was very emotional for the whole team,” Edwards said.
This year, the national ride was dedicated to 17-year-old Barrie teen Adam Fedosoff, who always wanted to ride across the country. His dream was completed when his best friend carried his ashes across the country.
Adam, like all the young people Edwards has met, had a profound effect on him.
“We are both looking at you on our way through life. Adam and I are committed to improving the lives of those suffering from unnecessary disease and death by inspiring people to achieve extraordinary physical and emotional accomplishment,” he said.
From 2004, the foundation’s Tour for Kids started with 24 riders and has grown to more than a thousand riders. There are more than 100 volunteers who help to make the events happen. There has been more than $25 million raised for children with cancer.
100 per cent of this money funds cancer charities in Alberta, Ontario and Atlantic Canada. There are more than 1,700 children a year diagnosed with cancer and more than 10,000 children in Canada living with some kind of cancer. There are more than just the connections with children that make Edwards’s work with the foundation so special. There’s an overwhelming feeling when an entire town comes out to greet you.
Towns stand out like old friends for Edwards, who remembers when an entire town of 350 people greeted him and the other riders and volunteers with smiles and $5,000 for the cause. In Piapot, Sask., there is nothing but the generosity, compassion and the Piapot Saloon and Guesthouse. The ride has gone through Piapot every year since 2008. After each year Edwards is always left in awe.
For all the places, people and children, his life has been enriched. It seems every year something special happens.
“There is always an emotional, a spiritual crossing of some type,” he said.
Edwards is still collecting donations this year: http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=1518664
For more information on the rides and the newest opportunity to complete the “triple crown” of the regional rides and the national ride see www.coasttocoastagainstcancer.org or www.searsnationalkidscancerride.com.