On a 15th and final bike ride of 400 kilometres to raise money for cancer, Kerry Kunzli and 150 other cyclists will pedal from Kelowna to Delta in a single day this weekend.
Saturday’s Ride2Survive is a swansong for the annual event, which has raised $8 million since it all began as a much smaller fundraiser in 2004.
On June 22, starting at around 3 a.m. in the Okanagan city, Kunzli and the others will roll southwest over the next 20-something hours – a gruelling experience for all involved, through whatever weather Mother Nature throws their way.
It’s all meant to reflect a typically hard day in the life of a cancer patient in treatment.
For Kunzli, his wife Vicki and other volunteers who plan the annual ride, the time has come to close this chapter of their lives.
“The logistical challenges of doing the ride are getting fragile, with all of it,” said Kunzli, a North Deltan.
“It’s bittersweet,” he added, “because I was there for the first one and all the way through. We’re looking forward to just getting back on our bikes instead of planning this big ride all the time.”
The initiative will live on as a “fundraising bike club,” Kunzli noted.
“Many riders still want to be part of this,” he said. “We’ll still do banquets and pole sits, raffles and fundraisers, whether we ride from Kelowna or around the block. It’s a long ride, and a lot of people still want to ride with the club. It’ll be community club – a fundraising club with a cycling problem,” he added with a laugh.
This year, because it’s the last ride of its kind, more people than usual signed up to cycle.
“Usually we get about 100 riders, and we’ve had around 140 in years five and 10, so this is the most we’ve ever had in a single year, for sure,” Kunzli said.
“This is unique among fundraising events and is possible because we are all volunteers and we pay all the costs of the event,” Kunzli says in a message to potential donors.
This year, the goal is to raise a cool $1 million online at ride2survive.ca, which also serves as a portal for photos, video and ride history.
“It blows us away when we start thinking back what’s taken place here,” Kunzli said. “It’s a pile of money we’ve raised, and yeah, we’re proud of that. We never imagined what this turned into over the past 15 years.
“It’s been quite a ride, in more ways than one.”