Cyclists pedal to help kids with cancer

PEDAL POWER: Cyclist Laurie Vanderhaeghe of Sweaburg. (John Tapley photo)

PEDAL POWER: Cyclist Laurie Vanderhaeghe of Sweaburg. (John Tapley photo)

By John Tapley

Sun Media

Later this year, Laurie Vanderhaeghe will live her dream and help children with cancer.

The Sweaburg resident and Sharron Poole of Woodstock are among about 40 cyclists who will pedal across Canada in the second annual Sears National Kids Cancer Ride June 13 to 25.

Each of them is looking to raise $25,000 toward the event.

"Collectively, we hope to raise $2 million," says Vanderhaeghe who has collected $5,000 so far and Poole has raised $2,000.

The Norwich-Otterville Lions Club is running a 50-50 draw in support of Vanderhaeghe's and Poole's ride. On Saturday, the two women were at the Norwich Community Centre during the Lions' carnival to help promote the ride.

Starting out in Vancouver June 13, the cyclists will divide into three groups and leapfrog across the country so that each group is covering one-third of the distance.

A ride along in the Woodstock area June 20 is the only time the entire group will be together again until they reach Halifax June 25.

A cyclist for some time, Vanderhaeghe said she decided to participate after hearing about the first ride last year.

"I've always wanted to cross Canada on my bike," she says.

Poole signed on after hearing Vanderhaeghe talk about the event.

Because each group is covering one-third of the distance, the event will take two weeks instead of the two to three months it would take to ride every kilometre personally. Vanderheaghe says that while she still wants to ride the entire distance across the country one day, the Sears ride fits more easily into her schedule at the moment.

Each rider will cover between 200 and 300 kilometres per day during the event and every 100 kilometres of the ride is dedicated to a child with cancer.

Vanderhaeghe and Poole have been training for the ride since October, pedaling various distances six days per week, eventually working up to between 200 and 300 kilometres at a stretch.

During the winter, they are using stationary equipment so they can train indoors.

"We can still ride our own bikes and watch TV or listen to music," Vanderhaeghe says. "Once the snow goes away, we're going outside and doing lots of riding."

She says she is looking forward to getting on the road to fulfilling her dream.

"It's amazing," she says. "I'm pretty lucky."

Pledges toward the ride can be made on the internet at: