An Army of Cancer Fundraisers and Supporters

2014-06-11  |  Events |  Posted by: Steve Merker

Last weekend, I met up with Shannon Nixon right before we both had to go on stage in front of thousands of Riders, volunteers and supporters of the 7th annual Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.  Shannon is an oncology nurse at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a multi-year Rider, and now a cancer survivor.
“I’m nervous,” she said.
“So am I.”
“But you’ve done this before!” she exclaimed.
“Yes, I have. But it doesn’t mean I’m not nervous.”
In fact, neither of us should have been that nervous. Why? Because the army of cancer fundraisers and supporters are always in a celebratory mood.  They also have a dual appetite: one for a big dinner to replenish the calories burned riding 110 km on Saturday, and the other to hear from folks like Shannon who have come out on the positive end of their cancer journey.
Shannon’s story is one of victory over the disease we call cancer…a disease that 30 years ago was perceived as a death sentence. The war on cancer is still raging but more and more battles are being won.  Shannon is a shining example of this.
That day, Shannon showed me her three pages of speaking notes. She tells me she’s practiced over and over.
“How much time should I speak for?” she asks.
Oh boy I’m thinking.  Why is she asking me this now, five minutes before we go on stage?!
I told her that it doesn’t really matter how long you speak for as long as the message you deliver is appealing to the audience. I went on and suggested she put the speaking notes aside:
“People don’t want you to recite word for word what is written on those three pages. They want to hear from your heart. They want to hear about your emotional journey and your experience soldiering on. You can never go wrong delivering a message from the heart. So what if you miss a few details? The audience will never know. When you speak from within, the important messages will be heard loud and clear.”
Fast forward 15 minutes.
She hit it out of the park! Shannon’s delivery was authentic and charming with very little reading! Her infectious personality shone through and it was clear the audience was soaking in her recollections from the past 12 months from diagnosis to sur-thrivership!
And that, folks, is what the Ride is all about for me. The funds raised sure will supercharge the research engine here at Princess Margaret. But very importantly, it’s about the emotional camaraderie and heartfelt stories that binds this army of cancer supporters.

PS. We raised $20 million! Revolutionary for our cancer research program! Many thanks to all the donors, all 5212 Riders, 650 Crew, 600 Volunteers, and of course the corporate sponsors who help offset costs of the event.