by Kaylynn Purdy, Grade 12 student
One day, after going out for a ride, I had the inspiration to use cycling, the thing that I love, to change something I hate. When school ended last June, I made the decision that I would ride my bike across BC starting on August 23rd and ending on September 4th, to raise money and awareness for teenagers and young adults with cancer. Everybody told me I was crazy, not strong or big enough to do it, but thankfully despite their skepticism they donated anyway. I prepared all summer, training every day riding between 60 and 120km a day, and proved those skeptics wrong.
I rode my bike from the Alberta boarder, which is only minutes away from my hometown of Sparwood, BC to ‘Mile Zero’ in Victoria. It took me 12 days, 10 days on the bike covering between 80 and 140km a day. I went over five mountain passes, the longest being 42km of straight up, and the longest decent being 54km. My max speed was 87.8km/hr, I pedaled for on average 4-5hrs a day and the total distance I covered on 2 wheels was 1227km. But the real accomplishment is the money that was donated, my goal was $5000.00, I was pretty confident that I would be able to cycle across BC, but I didn’t think that I would ever be able to raise $5000.00 in two months. So far I have raised $5420.33 for the Canadian Cancer Society – BC and Yukon Division.
Why did I choose to do this? Survival rates for adolescents and young adults with cancer haven’t improved since Nixon was president…that is kind of a long time. I am a teenager, most of my friends are teenagers (that is usually how it goes when you are in high school) so I rode for my friends, my peers, my generation. Cancer sucks; it is as simple as that. Now imagine being a teenager, losing all your hair, being stuck in a hospital full of children, and fighting for your life, that is why I did it. No matter how much 42km uphill hurt, I knew there was somebody out there going through something so much worse.
I have learned from this experience that I can do anything if I just reach high enough. So I challenge you: step out of your boxes and reach for something that is beyond your perceived potential, prove people wrong, do something that is bigger than yourself and see what happens. You never know, you just might accomplish something that you never thought was possible. Cancer has and will affect all of us in our lives, but hopefully someday the suffering will end, and I am proud to be a part of that end.
Be the change.