This fall, the BMO Ride for Cancer was back and bigger than ever, with cyclists and partners of the initiative gearing up to support cancer care in our region.
Hosted by the QEII Foundation and considered the largest cycling fundraising event in Atlantic Canada, the occasion is meant for riders of all levels to connect as a community, enjoy picturesque Nova Scotian coastlines and stay active, all while contributing to a first-in-the-world cancer-fighting technology — called personalized radiotherapy — at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.
One rider who was excited to participate in this event is co-owner of Evolve Fitness, Mathew Benvie, who partnered with the QEII Foundation again this year. He recalls his mother losing her best friend to cancer and the rippling effect that grief and loss had on his family.
“All of us have personal connections to cancer in one way or another,” says Mathew. “We have many clients -— or their families and friends — that have been impacted by cancer. It's something that our community connected with as well, so we got on board.”
This was Mathew’s third time participating in the BMO Ride for Cancer, with his team being the largest to participate in terms of the number of riders for all three years. They were also the top fundraising team in 2020 and 2021.
“It’s been really cool to see people who were super nervous at first get back on a bike,” he says. “It is such a great event that aligns with helping get people active, which aligns with our own health and fitness values at Evolve.”
Although Mathew is relatively new to the BMO Ride for Cancer, giving back to the community is a trait that he wants to cultivate. His gym has organized toy drives, created health challenges with proceeds going to local charities, and hosted events for local centres and shelters in the area.
“We have a platform where people trust us,” he says. “So, I felt you can do good with that, or you can do nothing. And it’s important to us that we do as much good as we can.”
Mathew’s spirit of giving has also inspired many of his clients to participate in the event. In fact, Mathew’s generosity is one of the reasons Susan Mullin, president and CEO at the QEII Foundation, decided to become a member of Evolve Fitness.
“When I moved to Halifax in 2020, I was looking for a new gym and went to Evolve Fitness because of their support of the BMO Ride for Cancer,” says Susan. “As I’ve gotten to know Mathew and the team, I’ve seen how much they truly care about the health of Nova Scotians, how they support local businesses and the incredible impact they have made by supporting causes like this one.”
The BMO Ride for Cancer took place on Saturday, Oct. 1. Bikers began in Bayers Lake, with designated turnaround points, pre-assigned pit stops and numerous routes ranging from 25km to 160km on the trail and road.
“As a fitness professional, I know that biking, walking, strength training and other forms of exercise reduce your overall risk of developing many long-term chronic conditions, including cancer,” says Mathew.
“By promoting physical activity and being outside, we hope to have an impact on peoples’ lives and wellbeing,” he adds.
Mathew praises the QEII Foundation for its unwavering dedication to helping others live a healthy life, and for going above and beyond to ensure their partners, like Evolve Fitness, succeed in any way they can. He wants to encourage those who are hesitant about joining the BMO Ride for Cancer event to give it a try in 2023.
“People might feel like they can’t bike 25 kilometres but there are many ways that you can fundraise,” he says. “Getting out of your comfort zone is always good for you; you're going to meet more people that are like-minded and you're going to be in a group of incredibly supportive people.”
At the time of printing, the 2022 BMO Ride for Cancer event has raised more than $2 million (net) and counting.
While many riders will soon tuck their bikes away for the winter, Evolve Fitness continues to support healthcare professionals and the health of their community. Until Nov. 10, 2022, Nova Scotia Health employees have access to special membership promotions, both virtual and in person, including a $100 first month promotion where the full $100 is donated to BMO Ride for Cancer. Visit https://bit.ly/evolveride22 to learn more.