A “small but mighty” mother-daughter duo from South Surrey are gearing up to once again pedal towards a cure for cancer, as participants in the 2021 Tour de Cure.
Karen Cartmill and her daughter Chrissie Thernes are planning to cycle 100 kilometres on Aug. 28 in memory of Cartmill’s sister, Kathy Stonehouse, whose life the disease claimed in 2011. Funds raised will benefit the BC Cancer Foundation.
This will be Cartmill’s eighth time participating in the ride, and her daughter’s seventh. It became an unofficial family affair in 2013, when Stonehouse’s daughter Jennifer joined the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
The following year, Stonehouse’s son Jeff joined in, as did Thernes and Cartmill, and the four set out on a 250-km trek.
The tradition continued from there, and over the years, Team Kathy’s Riders has raised just shy of $64,000.
This year, that figure will grow by more than $8,000 – it was at $8,204 as of Friday afternoon (July 23).
Thernes said Friday that despite pandemic-related changes to the event – including that it is being held virtually as opposed to pre-pandemic years that have seen some 2,000 riders gather for the cause – many things remain the same. Among them, that cancer is a reality for many even amidst a global pandemic; that every year, the list of those she is riding for gets longer; and, that she is choosing to make a difference for a cause that is close to her heart.
“This ride, it’s for them,” she said, referring to her aunt and the several others whose memories she’ll carry with her on Aug. 28. “And it’s also for us, to be able to actually do something about it, to have a tangible way of creating a change and having a different outcome sooner rather than later.”
The hope, she added, is that the fundraising will, sooner rather than later, help make it so that the word ‘cancer’ is not synonymous with losing a loved one.
She described her aunt, who died at age 63, as the eldest of three siblings; a loving and strong leader who was always up for an adventure. Thernes said words of Brené Brown are a fitting summary: “She talks about strong back, soft front, wild heart,” she said. “Those words remind me of my Aunty Kathy.”
Thernes said she and her mom “proudly” wear golden helmets and ‘Kathys Riders’ jerseys as they ride. She doesn’t yet know the route they’ll follow for the Aug. 28 event – she’s just hoping for a dry day and not too many hills – but said she is thankful to know her mom will be right there with her for the duration.
“I know it’s something that’s really important to my mom,” she said. “Getting to do this ride every year with my mom is really special.”
On her fundraising page, Thernes reminds donors that “every dollar you donate means a dollar more to the world leading scientists and doctors at the BC Cancer Foundation who continue their efforts to conquer cancer.”
She added Friday that she is “just always blown away” by family and friends who continue to support the effort.
“We’re a small team, but we’re still making a difference,” she said.
Both Cartmill and Thernes set their personal fundraising goals for the one-day event at $1,000. To boost their efforts further, visit tourdecure.ca/team/kathysriders
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