The ninth edition of the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is underway and the event proved successful before the first rider put foot to pedal.

“We’re going to have an amazing weekend. We have got 1,500 riders on the road, riding more than 200 kilometres over the next two days,” said Myka Osinchuk, CEO of the Alberta Cancer Foundation. “They’ve raised more than $6.7 million this year alone and over $66 million in the last nine years to help Albertans facing cancer.”

Osinchuk says this year’s fundraising total surpassed the $6.35 million in donations collected for the Alberta Cancer Foundation during the 2016 event, an impressive total given the economic challenges of late.

“The economy has an impact on everybody. We find that Albertans are extraordinarily generous. This cause is so close to their hearts.”

The cyclists rode from Canada Olympic Park to Okotoks on Saturday and will make the return trip on Sunday.

Osinchuk says everyone involved in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer has been touched by the disease.

“They’ve lost a mother. They’ve lost a father. They’ve lost a friend or colleague, or they’re a survivor themselves. There are so many people out there that are actually doing the ride while they’re receiving treatment. Every story is incredibly powerful and it’s such a privilege to be part of the Alberta Cancer Foundation.”

Natasha De Sandi is participating in the ride to honour the memory of her nonna.

 “I lost my grandmother a year ago this month,” explained De Sandi. “She battled cancer for many years. She was in remission and then her cancer came back. It essentially spread through her whole body and the amount of suffering she went through….”

De Sandi says, for her, this weekend’s ride is much more than just a bike trip. “This ride is a gathering of people just really trying to show their support,” said De Sandi. “It’s probably going to be one of the greatest weekends of my life.”

Sara Abbott has been a volunteer with the Enbridge Ridge to Conquer Cancer for the last two years but this will be her first year pedaling.

 “Just in the past year I've had my dad diagnosed with cancer, I lost a family friend a month ago to cancer and two other family friends got diagnosed this year,” said Abbott. “I felt it was my obligation to ride for them and represent for them and raise money for the families that are also going through this.”

Prior to the start of the ride, Abbott expected a difficult cycling journey but that her struggles would pale in comparison to those facing cancer patients.

“This ride will be hard but going through cancer is harder and that's why I'm here.”

For additional information about the event, visit Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.