Please support Team Charlie's Tour de Cure!
August 2023 I will be embarking on a cycling challenge. I have committed to participate in the Tour de Cure presented by Wheaton Precious Metals to help BC Cancer Foundation break down cancer. This will be my FIFTH Ride to Conquer Cancer / Tour de Cure as TEAM CHARLIE and like in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021...I chose to ride for many reasons. At 54, I am lucky. I have my health about me. I feel the need to do something. One thing I am good at is riding my bike; so, it is time, once again, for me to put that to good use.
Our team is named after Charlie Petrie, who was the son of my incredibly amazing, generous, selfless, intelligent, playful, and funny fiancee Vicki. Back in 2011 Charlie lost his eye to cancer but that didn't stop him, he continued to live life to its fullest. Just like his mom, Charlie had a kind heart, a courageous outlook on life and a generous soul. I met Vicki in February 2014 and shortly after, Charlie was diagnosed with an aggressive melanoma. Unfortunately, cancer took Charlie from his family and friends in October that year. The pain of that loss was and still is to this very day, profound. I signed up for the ride while Charlie was at Canuck Place, after he spent some time at Children's Hospital in Vancouver, to honour his struggle and to give his family a sense of hope.
I was an outsider.
I was not a doctor or nurse who could help.
I was not a counselor who could help the family talk through grief.
I wanted to help but I felt helpless.
The Ride was an outlet, a chance to connect and provide some support.
All I could do was be a shoulder for Vicki and a soft place to land when things turned dark. Unfortunately, events conspired against a meeting for Charlie and me. Don't get me wrong I converse with the dude all the time. He often gives me subtle reminders to be humble and makes sure I am good to his mom. To provide some meaning in such a profound loss, I dedicated my ride to him. Charlie was front and centre on my biking jersey in 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021 and he is again this year too.
He is there every day when I get on my bike.
He looks out for me.
He tells me to ride on.
He inspires me to act and help as many people as I can.
He lives among us.
He is an inspiration.
In four rides my team of donors honoured Charlie by donating $23,500 for childhood cancer research here in BC. More importantly, people on the ride ask me about him. They want to know his story and I think that is why I cannot stop doing this. This ride in some small way continues to keep Charlie with me. I ride for Charlie and for the love that I have for his mom and the love that she has for him.
Charlie's legacy has manifested itself in another person I am riding for, Kenton Doust. Every year in my job I have the privilege to work with some amazing human beings; students who surprise, empower, and make me a better person. In my 30+ year teaching career I've worked with well over 5500 young men and women and I've seen it all...good, bad, and stuff that's just plain crappy and unfair.
I met Kenton in 2016 after his time at Children's Hospital in Vancouver. Kenton was diagnosed with three brain tumors back in October 2015 and after both surgery and chemo is now in remission (cancer free). Kenton was incredibly brave standing up in front of 1100 students, retelling his story on Terry Fox Day and I wanted to show him how much he inspired me with his dignity, grace, tenacity, and strength. Kenton reminds me that there is so much potential in the world. To this day, he faces every challenge that comes his way with a certain grace and a feisty sense of determination. He laughs a lot. He encourages others to be joyful. I enjoy his dry sense of humour. We share a love of the Whitecaps. He is a force of will. I am so fortunate to know him. There's also another reason I wanted to give Kenton my support...the money raised by my team of donors to honour Charlie Petrie from 2015 and 2017 was directed towards childhood cancers. I know, without a doubt, that the money raised by my team of donors helped Kenton in his struggle. Because of that, Kenton walked across the stage and graduated from high school in 2019. To honour Kenton, Charlie, and their struggles I ride in the Tour de Cure.
But it is not just students, it is also dear colleagues...
Graeme McFadyen was an incredibly generous and gifted human being, a kind and humble soul, who I am proud to have been a friend of. He loved his family, sport, and teaching. He was an Icon at Vanier, such an incredibly talented teacher. I could always count on Graeme for a story and a smile. Back in 2012, I asked Graeme to come along on our yearly Mount Saint Helens trip and watching him interact with the kids was nothing short of awe inspiring. I learned a great deal from him and his profound wisdom on teaching stays with me today, "students may not remember what you taught them, but they'll always remember how you made them feel". I asked Graeme if I could champion his cancer battles by riding for him in the 2017 Ride to Conquer Cancer. I was honoured to carry his name in my back pocket from Vancouver to Seattle; he was with me the whole time. Sadly, Graeme passed away from cancer on April 14th in 2018. I am honoured that his wife Janet has let me ride for him again this year in the Tour de Cure.
The geography teacher world is quite small, yet Barry Walker filled it up with his incredibly passionate presence. All the cool Geography teachers wanted to be like Barry. I was not only fortunate enough to learn from him but to also call him my friend. He loved the outdoors and started off in avalanche control before joining the teacher world. Did I mention he loved the outdoors? I could never keep up with him on the runs at Mount Washington and he led incredibly meaningful trips to Mount Albert Edward and Cape Scott for countless amounts of students. Aside from being a friend and an inspiration for me, he was also one of my son's favourite teachers. Cancer may have taken Barry from us in 2015 but his strength of character, his conviction of purpose, his generous spirit remains with me and those that loved him. I am proud to carry Barry's name in my back pocket for the Tour de Cure.
Sharon Randall was a funny, intelligent, articulate and dedicated teacher with a deep well of empathy. She and her husband Dave are very close friends with Vicki and me. We attended their wedding, spent many nights happily socializing together and shared experiences teaching together as well. In 2019, Sharon, Dave and I took a group of students to Germany on a school exchange. Sharon's grace and composure, her empathy and compassion, her sense of adventure and genuine joy to be with students in a foreign country was inspiring. Sharon was the soft shoulder to help students who were reluctant or shy, she was the one to whom so many relied on for strength. This, of course was not limited to our exchange to Germany...this was the norm for such a wonderful teacher and person. Sharon lost an incredibly short battle with cancer in the fall of 2019. The day I received the Alex Trebek Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, in Ottawa, Vicki and I found out we had lost Sharon to cancer. We were devastated; losing Sharon was inconceivable to us. I am honoured to carry Sharon's name in my back pocket, her smile and joyful nature will always stay with me and push me forward on the Tour de Cure.
In many ways I was inspired to take up the challenge because of my mother, Sally Young. You see Sally is a cancer survivor and has always been an amazing role model for my children and me. Those of you who know her, know just how strong she is and how proud I am to be her son. She is my rock. She is my lodestar. This inspirational human is still vibrant at the age of 88, due in no small part to early detection and care from BC Cancer. So, I am riding for her because I love her so much and if I ever face a diagnosis I know what to do, how to compose myself, what to learn, how to care for others all because of her. I am also riding to honour the memory of my father Doug Young who lost his battle with cancer in 2010. The lesson I learned from his cancer story was to never take my health for granted and to always listen to my body. Pay attention to small signs, live a healthy lifestyle, and get preventative care. A good lesson to learn.
My good friend, Denise Grant lost both her father Jim and her mother Rose to cancer. Jim and Rose were always generous and kind souls and I have fond memories of them from childhood. They were kind. They seemed larger than life. My most enduring memory of them is their laughter; they always seemed to have so much fun together. In 2013, to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and to honour her father, Denise hiked Mount Kilimanjaro raising over $13,000 for cancer research. This was a monumental task, one she never wavered from accomplishing. I am so inspired by her; she gave to me the belief that people can accomplish amazing things and that no goal is too lofty. I am honoured to have known them and proud to carry their names in my back pocket for the Tour de Cure.
There are so many other amazing people that I am inspired by; friends, colleagues and students who quietly find ways to deal with the day-to-day reality of having cancer or who have lost their battle but did so with such enormous grace and dignity. This ride is for all of them. It is not the distance I go that will make a lasting impact; it is the donation you provide to the BC Cancer Foundation through my Ride. I really believe we can break down cancer together and its through your generosity that well be able to do it. Please consider a contribution to this powerful movement with a donation. Funds raised through the Tour de Cure will support life-saving research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency, bringing hope to cancer patients in B.C. and beyond. Whatever you can give,
Thank you in advance for your help.