Written by Jesse Cole – Spruce Grove Examiner/Stony Plain Reporter
Spruce Grove Composite held its 2017 bike-a-thon on Thursday, April 27, with the theme of “unspoken heroes” as its guiding motto, said organizer and Spruce Grove Composite teacher Cheryl Jereniuk. Jereniuk said the theme was reflective of the courage and strength those battling cancer possess.
“If someone has been battling this — or knows someone who is — they can see how positive that person can be and sometimes they can become someone else’s hero because of what they’ve overcome and gone through,” she said.
The $34,000 raised as of press time goes to the Alberta Cancer Foundation (ACF) and Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Clinic. Jereniuk said the school has been supporting these foundations since 2015 in honour of a former Spruce Grove Composite teacher who died as a result of the illness.
Jereniuk said that by supporting the ACF, the money they raise stays close to the community.
“The nice thing about working with the ACF is that you get a bit more of a say in where you’d like the money to go,” she said. “Over the last three years, we’ve picked the Cross Cancer Clinic in Edmonton, given that anyone in the region who needs treatment is likely going to be going through that clinic.”
Spruce Grove Composite has been holding the annual bike-a-thon since 2010 and say that participation is rarely an issue given the widespread touch of cancer in our communities.
“All of the kids have somebody in their lives that has been touched by cancer, so it’s not usually very difficult to get kids on board with the fundraiser,” said Jereniuk.
That said, the school has seen numbers decline over the last two years.
“2015 was the year with the highest participation,” said Jereniuk. “We had probably 300 or more people participating and raised around $56,000. Last year, those numbers did fall quite a bit with around 200 people participating and $31,000 raised.”
Jereniuk said she isn’t sure why participation fell over the last number of years but notes that things are improving as this year they saw a slight increase from 2016 with 230 people participating.
It’s not just students on bikes over the 12-hour fundraiser, either, says Jereniuk. Students and staff hear from a number of speakers during the event.
“We had a hypnotist, guest speakers — including one student’s mother who is a breast cancer survivor. We also had one of our student’s whose younger brother is currently undergoing treatment speak. It was very emotional. I think it gave our participants an understanding of what it means to go through that as a family,” she added.