It turned out to be a great afternoon for a walk in Tillsonburg when the 48th annual Great Ride N Stride took place on Sunday.
People gathered at the Tillsonburg Community Centre before taking to sidewalk to do the 3km walk around Lake Lisgar, all to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society of Oxford.
Chair of the event and CCS Tillsonburg branch president Melissa Boesterd said there were individuals, family teams and business teams who all attended the event to raise money through pledges.
“Every dollar raised is beneficial for what the money goes toward in the end,” Boesterd said. “We’ve got new teams out this year and it’s great to see new faces. With Relay (for Life) being cancelled our numbers have expanded greatly this year.”
This year’s ride was also a very important one, as it was in honour of one of the walk’s longest participants Marion Pratt, who died last year.
Boesterd said that Marion and her husband Bill Pratt, who was also a former president of the CCS Tillsonburg branch, had been volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society’s local Tillsonburg branch for almost 60 years.
“They have been integral parts of our local branch and they’re just lovely people,” she said. “They’re involved in everything in town and she was just a huge loss for our community.”
Janis Cunningham, manager of the Oxford County community officer for CCS, said that both of the Pratts had been involved with the Ride N Stride event since its beginning 48 years ago.
“This is just to recognize her contributions over the years,” Cunningham said, “and continue the support of Bill and the family.”
Bill has also been the top individual fundraiser for the event for a number of years now, raising $3,000 to $4,000 every year.
“He’s an amazing force behind this,” Boesterd said. “As well as the reason we keep going.”
Bill said he was really thrilled with the turnout of the event, adding that they really need the money in the fight against cancer.
“This is something necessary and anyone can do it if they try,” Bill said about being the top fundraiser for the event. “The whole thought behind this event is 'let people contribute in any way they can' and 'let them have fun doing it.'”
The grand total raised Sunday, including some last-minute pledges, was $28,880.50.
"We are up significantly from last years total, which was just over $10,510," said Boesterd.
In its 48-year history, the Great Ride N Stride in Tillsonburg has raised more than $565,000, which have funded critical life-saving cancer research to improve how cancer is prevented, diagnosed and treated. The cancer survival rate has increased from 25 per cent in the 1940s to over 60 per cent today. The funds also help support those living with cancer and their families.
The Canadian Cancer Society, Oxford Branch, would like to thank all of the participants, donors, and volunteers for making it such a successful event, incuding presenting sponsors Marwood Metal Manufacturing and Kirwin and Oatman Excavating, and supporting sponsors B&B Graydon Enterprises, East Elgin Concrete Forming, Green Lea Ag Center, Ostrander's Funeral Home, and Verne's Carpet One.
Trophy winners were: Bill Pratt - Top Individual Fundraising; Team ECI - Top Business Fundraising Team; Mount Elgin United Church - Top Community Team; Fishing for a Cure - Top Family Team.
If anyone would still like to contribute to this event, they can go online to www.cancer.ca/greatride and choose Tillsonburg, or they can mail a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society Oxford County Community Office, 3 - 65 Springbank Ave. N, Woodstock, N4S 8V8.