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John G. Diefenbaker High School students raise more than $26,000 pedalling for a purpose

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John G. Diefenbaker High School kicked off its Ride of the Chiefs (ROTC) charity event on Friday, with students raising more than $26,000 for the Alberta Children's Hospital.

The event has students in Grades 10 to 12 ride stationary bikes for 12 hours in different groups, with participants dressing up in costumes and decorating their stations.

The event also featured local artists, a DJ and food trucks.

"It's about giving back to the community and helping those in need, making health care more accessible for the children in the Alberta Children's Hospital,” said ROTC organizer Sanika Jain.

Every year, the money is distributed to a different section of the hospital, with this year's ROTC benefitting the oncology department.

"I think it's great, giving us this event to come together and have the entire student body participate in one day to be able to give back to our local community but at the same time, providing an opportunity to have a fun day," said Samir Sharma, co-president of the school's student council.

For John G. Diefenbaker students, it's also a break from Friday classes and a chance to come together.

"It's so much fun. Look around -- the whole school is here and we love it," said Grade 12 student Mandy Ma.

Alexander Luong is in Grade 10 and his group, Dief's Chiefs, raised $700.

"The fun of the event is everyone gets to ride their bike, have fun talking with their friends," Luong said.

"It's so nice to give back to our community."

Since it began nine years ago, the ROTC has raised more than $170,000, with funds from 2024 helping top $195,000. The school will host a few more charity events next week to help it reach its goal of $30,000.

Special ride for one teacher

Participating in this year's ROTC is physical education teacher Clayton Masikewich, who is biking for his six-year-old niece Sloane.

The youngster was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma last spring.

"This year especially is pretty cool for me. To be able to have all the money go to a cause that's really near and dear to me, it means a lot," Masikewich said.

Sloane and her family had to spend a month in Florida for her radiation treatment.

Masikewich says funds raised from the ROTC will go toward opening a new centre for immunotherapy "which they are trying to have built in Calgary," lessening the burden on families like Sloane's.

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