36 Cyclists Arrive in Halifax After 7,000 km Ride Across Canada to Battle Childhood Cancer



    Sears National Kids Cancer Ride

    HALIFAX, June 24 /CNW/ - Thirty-six cyclists arrived in Halifax today
after a 12-day journey across Canada as part of the Sears National Kids Cancer
Ride. The Sears Ride across Canada is the world's longest charitable cycling
event in support of childhood cancer, raising awareness and funds for
hospitals like the IWK Health Centre that treat kids with cancer. Cyclists
left Vancouver on June 13, 2009, reaching their Halifax destination after
covering 7,000 km in a modified relay-style ride.
    IWK patient ambassador Hannah MacKenzie was on hand to greet cyclists as
they peddled the last leg of their journey. Hannah, 16 years old, has acute
lymphoblastic leukemia. "Cancer doesn't have to be seen as a negative thing,"
says Hannah. "Greater things can come from this minor setback. You just have
to keep moving forward."
    Last year, with the generous support of Canadians from coast to coast,
the inaugural Sears National Kids Cancer Ride raised $1.1 million to fund both
national and provincial pediatric hematology and oncology research programs.
    "On behalf of all doctors and health care professionals working in the
field of childhood cancer care in Canada, I give my full support to this
tremendous initiative and applaud all those who contributed by riding,
fundraising, volunteering and, especially, donating to improve the quality of
life for our children with cancer," said Dr. Mark Bernstein, Head, Division of
Hematology-Oncology IWK Health Centre and Professor of Pediatrics, Dalhousie
University.
    Among the 36 national cyclists was 40-year-old Monique Mills, from
Fredericton, New Brunswick. "I am a cancer survivor and have known children
who have shown courage as no adult can while receiving treatments and
surviving the illness," says Ms. Mills about her inspiration for completing
the ride. "More needs to be done to raise awareness and funding for childhood
cancer initiatives across Canada in order to enrich the lives of all our
children."
    Another national cyclist Ken Cross of Kingston, Ontario, has a daughter
who has had cancer since she was four years old. She is now five and still
fighting. That was Cross's incentive to join other riders in cycling across
Canada in this second annual ride. "It was grueling, but nowhere near as
difficult as it is for a youngster to fight this disease daily," says Cross, a
Sears Human Resource Manager who began training for the ride seven months ago.
"For me, and I think for all of the riders, this ride was an endeavour from
the heart. It's symbolic of the struggle these kids and their families face,
and with the funds raised, it can make a difference."
    "Sears is fully committed to the cause of pediatric oncology as a
Company," said Dene Rogers, President & CEO, Sears Canada, who attended
today's ceremony to welcome the national riders into Halifax. "Through the
involvement of our associates and the vast network of Sears locations across
the country, we helped raise awareness, money for research and treatment and
support for children and their families who are dealing with these devastating
diseases." Mr. Rogers rode from Vancouver to Calgary and then joined the
national riders from Woodstock, ON to Belleville, ON.
    The funds raised in the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride last year
represented the largest single donation received by the Canadian Council of
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Directors, a group of hospitals known as the
C17, the national childhood cancer organization representing all 17 pediatric
hematology/oncology programs across the country. Of the $1.1 million raised,
$770,000 was given to C17 to fund national pediatric hematology and oncology
research. The balance of $330,000 was distributed to pediatric oncology
centres across Canada, including the IWK, to support initiatives in childhood
cancer at the local level.
    During the ride, Canadians were encouraged to join the national cyclists
in shorter 'ride-alongs' as they passed through their local communities.
Cyclists stopped at select Sears locations and pediatric oncology centres
across the country where they joined local riders and met kids at various
hospitals.
    "Helping these kids and their families is the focus of our efforts," said
Jeff Rushton, Founder of the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation
(CTCACF). "The donations raised are critical in helping to fund programs that
can improve the survival rates and the quality of life for children fighting
this horrible disease." The Foundation, which conducts the Sears National Kids
Cancer Ride, is a volunteer-based registered Canadian charitable foundation
focused on improving health outcomes and quality of life of children and
families impacted by cancer.
    Cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death in children in
Canada. Each year, about 1,400 children are diagnosed with cancer. More
children die of cancer each year than asthma, cystic fibrosis, muscular
dystrophy, and congenital anomalies combined. Childhood cancer is very
different from adult cancer and places its own unique demands on our
healthcare system. The treatment and cure for these children is a 24/7
process, often over a period of 2-3 years, the effects of which can smother
childhood.

    Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network of 198 corporate
stores, 193 dealer stores, 40 home improvement showrooms, over 1,800 catalogue
merchandise pick-up locations, 108 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide home
maintenance, repair and installation network. The company also publishes
Canada's most extensive general merchandise catalogue and offers shopping
online at www.sears.ca.
    For more information, or to make a donation, visit
www.SearsNationalKidsCancerRide.com or call 1.866.381.4446.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Neil Alderson, Bristol, Phone:
(902) 491-2533, cell: (902) 223-3795, nalderson@bristolgroup.ca


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