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|Y Stories - Chris Collins|
Chris Collins is a Y member on a mission.
The 50-year-old Moncton East MLA has been chosen to participate in the 2013 Sears National Kids Cancer Ride, a bike trip from Vancouver to Halifax that will raise money for kids with cancer and raise awareness about what families go through when a child gets sick.
"I knew I had to do it," he says.
Chris and his wife, Lisette, lost their 13-year-old son Sean in 2007 after a four-year battle with the disease.
Even with support from friends and family, Chris estimates they spent a quarter of a million dollars on everything from transportation to accommodation to parking and meals throughout Sean's treatment.
He says many families don't have access to the same type of assistance, one of the reasons he is decided to take part in the 5th annual Kids Cancer ride.
"I hope to help ease the financial burden for families of sick children in New Brunswick. "Not a day goes by that we don't think about Sean. This is something I felt I could do to raise awareness about children's cancer in New Brunswick."
The Sears National Kids Cancer Ride, which begins in Vancouver on Sept. 5 and ends in Halifax on Sept. 21, will require Chris and his 19 teammates to cycle 165 kilometres a day in three of four segments. (He'll ride through Moncton on September 20.)
Another group of 10 elite riders will cover 250 kilometres a day over the 17 days.
Chris started training for the ride in September, most of it at the YMCA of Greater Moncton.
"I'm at the Y six days a week," he says. " I do three Cyclefit classes a week, two Centergy classes , a core day and a weight day. The Y has been very supportive. It's been great. The members and staff are very encouraging."
Several members – including Jean Barry, Dawn Steele, Darren Duguay and Sharon Keays Wade – are helping Chris with various aspects of his training.
"I'm feeling phenomenal," he says. "My blood pressure is great, weight is coming off and I'm dealing with stress better. There have been lots of benefits."
Chris has set a fundraising goal of $40,000, which will go to pediatric oncology programs in New Brunswick, cancer research and programs that improve the quality of life of children and their families living with and beyond cancer.
To keep costs down, Chris and his teammates will be sharing some pretty basic accommodation along the route – sleeping in the back of transport trucks, often in Sears' parking lots.
"It's not going to be posh!" Chris says with a laugh.
The Sears National Kids Cancer Ride is conducted by the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation comprised of mainly volunteers in partnership with Sears Canada and other sponsors who work to keep administration and promotion expenses to a minimum, ensuring that 100% of the money raised goes directly to fund research and support programs for kids cancer in pediatric oncology centres across Canada.
Those wishing to support Chris in his efforts can donate online at www.searsnationalkidscancerride.com
"We're really counting on people to get involved for this important cause," he says.