Riding to Make a Difference

Allison Pass
Allison Pass

While there are a number of charities raising money through bike riding out there, here’s one near and dear to me that you may not know about.

GearUp4CF is a fully-supported ride that raises funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis* (CF) research. All rider levels are welcome and ride options include:

  • 1 Day (100 km) – White Rock, BC, to Chilliwack, BC
  • 2 Day (225 km) – White Rock, BC to Manning Park, BC
  • 9 Day (~1,200 km) – White Rock, BC to Banff, AB.

This year’s event ran June 18 to 26 and marked my fifth nine-day ride.

The majority of the ride follows Hwy. 3 (close to the US border). For those of you familiar with British Columbia, that route encompasses many mountain passes one of which is the grueling climb up to the Kootenay Pass Summit. At 1,774 m (5,820 ft.), it is the highest paved road in Canada that is open year round!

As always, the ride challenged me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I spent close to 60 hours in the saddle – talk about time to contemplate! I also burned off approximately 26,500 calories, which was the perfect excuse to eat whatever I wanted. My personal five-year totals are over $80,000 raised and 5,188 km pedaled and I am really proud of that.

So why did I ride?

I am 53, a mother of two, a stepmother of three, and a step-grandmother of seven. Bike riding has always been my “go to” activity, whether it be commuting to work or just for pleasure. I’m by no means a super athlete; I just enjoy the freedom and reflective time that riding offers.

My youngest son, Darren, was diagnosed with CF at three months of age. Darren is now 22 and, thankfully, his health is holding steady. His daily routine includes swallowing up to 50 pills and completing one hour of chest/lung physiotherapy. He makes regular visits to the Adult CF Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. He holds down two jobs, maintains a busy social life, and moved out on his own in January. Aside from the “routine”, Darren’s life appears normal; however, that is only because of costly advancements in CF research.

Thirteen of us journeyed together to Banff: eight riders and five road volunteers (including my wonderfully supportive husband, Brian). Our connections to CF are varied, but we are united in the belief that, by working together, we can overcome what appears to be an insurmountable obstacle: finding a cure or control for CF. I am confident that this will occur in Darren’s lifetime.

* CF is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults; it is estimated that one in every 3,600 children born in Canada has CF. CF causes various effects on the body, but mainly affects the digestive system and lungs. Typical complications caused by CF are difficulty in digesting fats and proteins, vitamin deficiencies due to loss of pancreatic enzymes, and progressive loss of lung function. The degree of involvement differs from person to person; however, the persistence and ongoing infection in the lungs, with destruction of lungs and loss of lung function, eventually causes death in the majority of people who have CF. For further information, please visit: http://www.cysticfibrosis.ca/

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