So it’s only natural that a 50th birthday celebration involves a 13-day bicycle trek from Ontario to Nova Scotia for Andrea Haughan and her husband Lloyd McLean.
For those who know the Lyons Brook couple, they wouldn’t expect anything less.
“This is a celebration ride for myself because I turned 50 this year and I wanted to do something big,” said Haughan. “I wanted to do something eventful. Instead of me doing the full iron man that I had in the back of my head, I wanted to do something with Lloyd. This is a definitely an iron man every day.”
But it’s also more than that.
“We are doing the Ride for Reese as a celebration ride for Reese Hawkins. She is my goddaughter,” said Haughan.
The Pictou girl was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, but has been in remission for the past five years, allowing her to be declared cancer free in 2017.
“Lloyd and I decided we wanted to be part of the celebration and the end the five-year remission.”
Hawkins, along with her family and friends, has been raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada since she was diagnosed, and this year celebrated her cure with a final Walk with Reese. However, the fundraising will continue, with yard sales and a barbecue taking place during the next few months, with the final total presented to the society during its annual Light the Night event in October.
All of the money Haughan and Lloyd raise between now and October – before and after their bike ride – will also go to the society.
McLean mapped out the route that will include secondary roads and trails, with the goal of keeping off the busier highways. They plan to cycle an average of 167 km a day starting Aug. 1 and arrive in Pictou on Aug. 13. This works out to out between eight and 10 hours a day.
“We are going from Toronto from the Sick Kids hospital to Halifax to the IWK, and then we are going from the IWK back home,” said Haughan.
Since McLean has cycled across Canada in the past, he has a better idea of the challenges ahead of them, but instead of making things easier, he decided to ramp it up to a whole new level.
Haughan will be peddling on a new adventure type bike with some “aggressive tires” while McLean will use his fat tire bike for a more challenging ride. They will also peddle longer stretches during the day than any of his trips in the past.
“When we did the ride with Craig (Aucoin), we were averaging about 100 km a day. This is much more and I wanted it to be hard because when Reese went through her treatments, she didn’t have a break. It was tough and we are going to do the same thing. That is why our t-shirts say, ‘we will be stronger.’ We are doing it for Reese with no breaks.“
The couple admit that training is a passion of theirs, but they give thanks to Merton Arbuckle of the Pictou County YMCA for his leadership during their spin classes.
“Andrea and I believe in staying healthy year round, so we incorporate weight and aerobic activity year round,” he said. “We make this our date. Two or three times a week we meet here and we have to rely on each other to make it work. We have been YMCA members for over 15 years.”
The training sessions last about two to three hours and include a mix of everything from weights and aerobics, to swimming and running. Haughan is part of the tri-club, which has helped considerably with her cross training for the event.
Physically, the couple said they are ready to hit the road, but Haughan jokes that mentally, she may need some alone time on the road.
“I don't know if I should say this, but we will actually be drinking at the end of this,” she said jokingly. “I have pedaled on my training rides, and said ‘I can’t wait any longer, I am going ahead.’“
Barbecue for the Ride for Reese
Sunday, July 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Ride for Reese has two goals:
1. Reese was the recipient of stem cells that saved her life. More than 40 diseases and disorders can be treated with a stem cell transplant. Hundreds of patients in Canada are waiting for a match, but only one in two find a match. It’s hope the ride will raise awareness for the need and that more Canadians will add their DNA to the One Match registry. Canadians can now also give life by donating the umbilical cord after the birth of their child. Cord blood is rich with blood-forming stem cells. To learn more, go to www.blood.ca .
2. Through the research and work of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, more and more patients are surviving the battle against Leukemia. Each year Team Reese raises donations for the annual Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. One hundred per cent of every cent donated to Team Reese goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. To donate, go to www.lightthenight.ca.