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NIR Winnipeg 2013

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You know it’s gunna be good when…
…an NHL team plays in the same space you’re hosting an Inside Ride. The Jets are off today so we get to play here instead. Game on, Winnipeg!

We’ve got the real-deal Blue Bombers vying for a spot in Inside Ride history riding alongside Pixies and Super Heroes, and the YMCA clan are working their spirit hard against the Sunshine Team’s effervescent dancers. The NIRT team realise quickly that this one’s going to get lively in a hurry; the earplugs have made an appearance for the first time on the 2013 tour!

But this is not a first for The National Inside Ride and CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, however, they are no strangers to each other. This is the 3rd NIRT event they’ve collaborated on together to raise money to help the children living with cancer and their families. There are several teams made up of survivors who have been direct recipients of both foundations’ efforts, including Proof Positive, the two teams of Manitoba Teens Living with Cancer, Urbanmine, and Ryan’s Riders. But once the music starts and the timer is ticking, it doesn’t matter why they’re all here; this is a race. A race against a stationary peloton where everyone’s got their race face on! The collective mania of 300 dancing, jumping, screaming, neon-clad people pedalling against each other is one of the most ridiculous and contagious sights you can imagine.

At the end of the loud, colourful and inspiring evening the counters of the money did double takes and double counts to just believe their numbers. $181,000. Say it out loud….that’s       ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

As amazing as that achievement is, for us the real Winnipeg stories, the real successes, are slightly more subtle than the white fluorescent lights of the MTS Centre and the piles of twenties. The successes are in the tiny bell ringer Sophia Penner who’s one of our child ambassadors. We’ve taken Sophia with us across the country to every event in every year on a sandwich board. I’ve opened that sandwich board up every day but this is the first time I’m meeting her in person. People have read her story and seen her picture and ridden in her honour the country over. And stood here today as a shy 6-year-old girl with pigtails and purple stripes. She’s the all-important face of the WHY we’re here. Having the opportunity to meet her instead of honouring her memory is a privilege that sadly doesn’t happen at every event. Another success of the day was the team that proudly earned their first place spot for Top Fundraising Team, Team Proof Positive. And boy, did they ever live up to their name. A group of young survivors headed by a 12-year-old birthday boy blow everyone else out of the water with their pavement-pounding fundraising. To a decibel-breaking applause only a proud mother than conjure up, 12 year old Dane steps up to the podium to receive his awards for being the Top Male Fundraiser as well as a member of the Top Fundraising Team. The podium’s not a bad way to spend your birthday. The successes are also in the quiet donations we receive behind the scenes, like Winnipeg’s New York Fries’ $500 donation. New York Fries is one of the presenting sponsors of the Inside Ride. With an unwavering support they (along with LG and SLH) make it possible for Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation to keep the 100% donation model intact year after year. And the Winnipeg team went above and beyond that with their own donation, cementing a precedent of goodwill and commitment.
And so, when the music stops, but still ringing in our ears, we’re left with pink pixie dust on the floor, princess feathers on the bikes and survivor sweat on the mats we move on to the next city and the next madness and the next battle. Thank you Winnipeg, for your everything.