So all week the weather forecast was looking decidedly dodgy for Saturday and our 5th Edition of Spin For Limbs, and sadly for once it was correct. The only rain clouds for miles around were set to drop on us for our annual charity ride. I wondered how many would riders would show up considering the remote start, the awful weather forecast and the fact that it is so much easier just to turn over, press snooze, turn off the light and wait for the Sunday club ride, which by all accounts looked to be a glorious day, and would have been by far the easier option.
It warmed the cockles of my heart to see that almost everyone who had signed up for the ride pitched up ready to roll for an 8 o'clock start to ride 100km in the pouring rain! It just goes to show what an awesome group the cycling community are, how supportive BCC is, and how the commitment to a good cause trumps everything else. Not only did the 100km crew turn up (Jim, Bernadette, Steve, Paul, Ivana, Gord, Chris, Nick and Terri) but so did all the BCC families who dragged their kids out of bed, (Dave O, James E and Robin O) to come all that way to ride 10km!! Brilliant. It must be said that there are life lessons for our children on days like these that just because its raining you still get out there, regardless of the weather and do your best. You honour your commitments, and realize that we are lucky to be able to ride at all. And of course riders who come out in the rain are a self selecting group of awesome.
The 100km ride this year faced the same challenge as in previous years of having a mixed group of abilities from different clubs, mainly Neworld, BCC, Oakville (or non club riders) pitch up with the aim of getting everyone round together, and for every rider to have an enjoyable and memorable ride. This is a very tall order that we haven't always perfected, but we're working on it! One of the central themes of Spin For Limbs is to foster camaraderie amongst riders of differing experience and backgrounds. To show the kids that we ride for a great example, and that we are committed to encouraging each other to achieve what we never thought possible. Whether it is a non-club rider to do their first 100km, or for someone who usually rides group 2 to hang with the group 1 speedsters and turn in a 30km/h average. We all have our challenges.
Cady is 12 and she doesn't mind me telling her story, but I last operated on her leg 4 weeks ago (she had previously had a major limb reconstruction and lengthening surgery to her femur 4 years ago). She rode 25km with her Dad at Spin For Limbs this year. She told me afterwards that she specifically didn't tell me she was going to ride when I saw her in clinic 2 weeks ago in case I told her not that she was not allowed to ride. She was right not to tell me, as I would have definitely advised her against it! Considering what she has been through and her young age, it is truly inspiring to see that kind of determination. It shows that the challenges these kids face with their significant limb deformities often makes them stronger than their able-bodied peers. This one of the reasons that this year we have added a 10km ride to the menu. It has become apparent that many of the children we treat have been watching us all go out and ride for them each year, and now they want a piece of the action, and to get out and ride for themselves. It's a huge motivator for some of these children to ride in an event that is aimed at supporting them and their families. We see this as a huge area where the event can grow and develop over the next 5 years.
We also saw the 10km ride as a great opportunity for some of us club riders to get our youngsters out on the road for maybe their first family ride. Indeed Dave, James, Robin and I got our families out, fully rain-coated-up and set off in pretty nasty weather. None of the kids complained. Their bikes weighed more than they did. The route was hilly and tough. My daughter declared to me after the climbing that freewheeling downhill "was the kind of cycling she likes (!)". Dave and Robin's families held back with a kilometre to go so that we could all finish together. My daughter Saphia (9) punched the air as we crossed the finish line, I think we've watched too many Tour de France stages together! But I'm glad she did that because it shows what it means to complete your first event, no matter the distance and no matter the weather.
As it happened the sun came out for the family walk and post-ride entertainment, which really lifted the day. We enjoyed massages, face painting, a magician, silent auction (Thanks Dan and Garneau!), and a great barbecue. Because of the rain we had all changed into our civvies for the post-ride and amused ourselves with a photo, which never normally occurs. BCC riders, not in BCC kit!
As is now a tradition, the event finished with my patients getting a chance to get their own back and shoving a cream pie in my face. For many of the kids it is the absolute highlight of the day to get one back on me, and after everything they go through, it only seems fair. The look on their faces is amazing, and is worth the blurred vision, smelling like pudding and a sticky drive home!
In all, we have now raised nearly $200,000 through Spin For Limbs, and this has ensured that families undergoing limb reconstruction treatment can now obtain financial assistance and the best treatment for their child. Having a child undergoing complex and long term treatments is difficult enough without the significant burden of out-of pocket costs that the health care system does not cover for them. In addition we have built an interactive educational website to support families and are funding scientific research into limb regeneration so that one day, we can find better, less invasive treatments.
As always a huge thanks to everyone who makes this event happen. Thanks to Dan for rallying the troops and to Garneau for supporting us at the auction. Huge thanks to all the BCC riders and their families who came down to ride with us. I realize that you all went out of your way to support me as a fellow club member and our charity that I feel so passionately about, and for that I, and the kids that we treat at SickKids are truly grateful.