One of the great things about working for Citrix is our focus on giving back to the community. While getting our work done and preserving work-life balance, Citrix offers us the chance to participate in global days of impact where we demonstrate our values and commitment to social responsibility by giving back to the communities where we live and work. In my case, I’m dialing that up to “11” this year.
This September, I will be taking a few weeks off from my duties at Citrix to embark upon an 18-day journey across Canada, cycling to raise funds to fight childhood cancer in all its forms.
I am doing this because, in North America, more than 17,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, and more than 50,000 children are undergoing treatment or living with its effects. While childhood cancer survival rates have increased dramatically, the fact is that more than 50% of the survivors live with long-term, lasting impacts, including neuro-cognitive impairments, and secondary cancers. And less than 3% of overall funding goes to researching childhood cancer, even though the treatments developed for childhood cancer can be applied to adult cancer (the reverse is not true).
For this cause, I am riding with a team of 35 other riders across Canada, from Vancouver to Halifax from September 8th to the 23rd. During this time, we will cycle approximately 160 km/100 miles per day, every day, for 18 days, visiting families who are dealing with childhood cancer and hearing stories both from survivors and about the victims of this disease. Each of us will take a stone from the Pacific ocean, and carry it with us across the country to the Atlantic ocean as a reminder of the ride, and of who we are riding for.
We will have hard days, but they pale in comparison to what kids with cancer and their parents go through. We will suffer through 18 days on the road, but the parents of kids with cancer have to suffer through tremendous emotional pain from the moment that they hear the words “your child has cancer” until its ultimate conclusion, for better or worse. Parents fight through, hoping, fighting, trying to have a positive outlook, until in some cases all hope is gone. Hoping that with time left, even two seconds to go, they get to find out that their child has beaten cancer and will go on to a normal life. To get the slightest inkling of what this means, read Nolan’s story. The kids have a sense of innocence, sometimes simply accepting that this is their life. How can I give up and stop what I am doing, what we are doing, either training or fundraising, when these kids and their parents can’t simply give up the fight?
In the end, what I need is your help. Please donate to this cause. 100% of the funds we raise go to funding pediatric cancer research at seventeen oncology centers across Canada. And that research adds up to benefits for children living with cancer worldwide. You can donate to me directly at snkcr.com/richmeesters.
I will leave you with the words of Terry Fox, an 18 year old Canadian who ran the Marathon of Hope, running across Canada in 1980, until he succumbed to the ravages of his disease after completing 3,339 miles. For my part, I will keep training and fundraising, looking forward to riding across Canada in September and meeting the amazing kids and families who are living with this terrible disease.