Before 2012, Aldergrove resident Chuck Magnus had never owned a bike.
Now, Magnus, 60, is set to ride in his fifth Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two day, 250-kilometre bike ride from the Lower Mainland to Seattle to support the B.C. Cancer Foundation.
“It is such a powerful event for me,” he said. “Every year I ride, it’s far more emotional than my first year.”
Magnus’ daughter, Kristen Magnus, first got breast cancer when she was 29. She beat it, but her cancer came back last year.
“Last year my daughter, who had her cancer come back again, followed me the whole ride on GPS,” he said. Kristen lives in New Brunswick, and watched the event from afar.
“She was in my heart the whole time I rode.”
This year, Magnus will be riding knowing his daughter has beaten cancer yet again: they found out two months ago that she was “all clear.” He’ll also be riding with a golden helmet, a milestone achievement for his five years in the ride.
This year, the Ride to Conquer Cancer is taking place from Aug. 26 to Aug. 27, and will be starting from the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Grounds at 7 a.m. In the nine years the ride has been around, it has raised more than $77 million for the B.C. Cancer Foundation.
By the end of this year’s event, Magnus will have raised $200,000 of that money, with all of his donations going to support pediatric cancer research.
“As a dad, as a parent, I think the worst nightmare you can ever have is to hear from your child they have cancer,” he said. “For me that gripped my heart very strongly.”
It’s clear that Magnus’ relationship to his daughter influences all aspects of his ride. He said the most powerful moment of every ride is the start, especially last year while his daughter was still battling cancer.
“I had my sunglasses on for a reason,” he said about the opening speech for the 2016 Ride to Conquer Cancer. “I was an emotional basket. Because I listened this story that (the speaker) was telling, and it just hit home so strong with me because everything that she said was exactly what our daughter had gone through.”
Even though the ride is still weeks away, Magnus is already planning for 2018, which could see the route change. Instead of ending in Seattle, it will likely remain in the Lower Mainland. Magnus is testing out a potential route for the 2018 ride on Aug. 19.
But, “even when I can’t ride anymore, I’m still going to be involved,” he said.
“It’s not about necessarily getting to that finish line. It’s great if you can do it. But the big thing is to believe in the ride and to know that you’re making a difference.