Ride Raison d'être: The 2015 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer

2015-06-16  |  Events |  Posted by: Steve Merker

My cell phone is ringing! I’m in a tight group speeding towards the finish line. So I break the rules that I have helped to write and pull out my cell phone in the middle of a Ride to Conquer Cancer peloton. Darn, I missed the call.  I see from my missed calls log that it’s from Steve Cohen, the team captain of “Steve’s CyclePaths”. Do I pull over or keep riding? My team is yelling at me to keep up as we’re getting close to the finish and some well-deserved post-Ride libations. So I break the rules again and dial my phone at 30km/hour as the message was “urgent” and of course I had to keep pace with my team members. I just hope the riders around me are OK with it. Keep in mind, Steve only calls me if there’s something very important on his mind.

Cohen answers: “Steve, where are you?” he asks. I reply that I’m about a mile away from the finish line at Mohawk college (day 1 of the 2-day Ride to Conquer Cancer). He then asks me to come find him right away as soon as I arrive. Steve and his team have managed to raise over $4.5 million on the Ride in the past seven years. Simply amazing! This guy works incredibly hard to build an unbelievable team of cancer fundraisers and bike riders. Since he works so hard for us, going to see Steve, ‘stat’, at the finish line is a no brainer. But I am a little concerned that something has gone wrong in the handling of his massive team. People like Steve Cohen don’t come along every day and, after all he and his team have contributed to the Ride, our goal is to keep them happy and engaged.  I sense the urgency in Steve’s voice and ask if everything is OK. He replies, “Don’t worry Steve, I’m not going to bust your chops, just come see me…it’s good news!”


So I make my way through the throng of celebrating Riders to meet with Steve. He greets me with a big handshake and then spills the news “So our team is at about $890K in fundraising. I’m sure it will climb a little higher in the next few weeks post-ride, however, I and one of my riders are going to personally top up our team to one million dollars!”

My jaw drops.

Man, this world needs more Steve Cohens!

About three hours later, our feature speaker during camp ceremonies, Alison Salinas, is telling her cancer story. It’s a story of highs and lows and emotional ups and downs. Alison informs us that she had been given the all clear almost two years ago from cervical cancer and planned to participate in the Ride this year alongside her boyfriend, Tyler. But in March of this year she discovered her cancer had returned. Alison is unable to Ride because of her treatment, but tells everyone enthusiastically that she will join us all next year sporting a yellow survivor flag.

Alison has a positive energy about her that is quite infectious. It’s very real and very tangible. She got up in front of over 4000 people, smiled and told everyone that her very dangerous cancer had returned and that she’s hopeful that funds we are collectively raising will help initiate new treatment methods. How she held it together while thousands in the audience were wiping tears, I’ll never know. What an inspiring woman!

Man, this world needs more Alison Salinas!

The combination of Steve Cohen and Alison Salinas is unique and powerful.

In a lot of ways, Steve Cohen represents all 4853 Riders out there. We all care and have been touched by this terrible disease. Every one of us worked hard to raise funds for the Ride. I don’t think too many people would argue with me if I stated that Steve goes well above the call of duty…because he can and so he does. No sitting back for Steve. He’s a doer and a champion with a heart of gold.

Alison Salinas is in the middle of her cancer treatment. She has gone out of her way to spread the word of her campaign, #TealPower, to raise awareness and funds for Cervical Cancer in Canada. I don’t think anyone would argue that Alison goes above and beyond the call of duty to help inspire the masses and rally for the cause. No sitting back for Alison. She’s a doer and a champion with a heart of gold.
Steve has capacity. Alison is our raison d'être. They both inspire. They are both representative of why we Ride and why we continue to Ride.

Ride on Steve and Ride on Alison!