A mother and son team from Whitney in South Algonquin Township are riding their bikes to make a difference in the lives of kids with cancer. Heather Ridout and her son Malachy have cycled over 100 kilometres since the beginning of August in the Great Cycle Challenge to raise money to help children fighting cancer at Sick Kids’ Hospital in Toronto.
Now one of the biggest cycling events across the country, the Great Cycle Challenge began in 2016, and it helps to raise money to fight children’s cancers. According to the Great Cycle Challenge website, cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in Canada, and over 1,400 kids are diagnosed each year in our country with cancer. Happening throughout August of each year, the community of people who undertake the ride has grown to 13 provinces, a total of 12,580,838 kilometres ridden and nearly $13 million raised over the past five years.
Ridout says that she and her son love to ride their bikes together and this was a great way to do that and to make a difference in the lives of these kids fighting this horrible disease.
“I was looking this up one day, information about this ride to raise funds for kids with cancer and he peeked over my shoulder and he saw a picture of one of the little ones that have cancer and he asked who it was. I told him I didn’t know but that she was sick though and had cancer and he said ‘Mommy, can we help her?’ And I said ‘Actually we can. All we have to do is bike ride’ and he said ‘Okay, let’s go right now!” she says.
Ridout says they did the ride on bike trails and some back roads around the Whitney area, like the old Hwy 127, where there wasn’t too much traffic. She says that Malachy was very determined to do it and that when the ride ended, he was actually upset because he wanted to keep fundraising for the kids.
Ridout says that the event has been extended to the end of September, so she and Malachy are continuing with their mother/son bike rides to help the kids. While they had an initial goal of raising $500, she says that as of Sept. 3, they have raised just over $800 for the Great Cycle Challenge.
Part of the reason Ridout says she wanted to do this was she wanted Malachy to be mindful of his advantages in life and what he can do to help others.
“I want him to think like this growing up and clearly he already does,” she says.
Ridout says they’ll probably do this event again next year and just increase the number of kilometres they ride together, as well as looking at doing other worthy causes.
“It was really sweet. We were out riding and he mentioned to me how great it was to be spending this time with me,” she says. “He said it was actually really fun and he was really enjoying this time with his mom.”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times