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Riding, striding to beat cancer

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Wearing purple Sunday in honour of Violet Ormerod, Team Ormerod has been a long-time supporter of Tillsonburg's Great Ride N Stride.

"Today is the 49th annual Great Ride N Stride here in Tillsonburg, and it's in honour of my grandmother Violet Ormerod," said Melissa Boesterd, president of the Tillsonburg branch of the Canadian Cancer Society, and captain of Team Ormerod on Sunday, April 29.

"This is by far the best participation and the best support we've seen from walkers - definitely more than we're used to having - and from the community as far as donations go, and as far as pledges are concerned. We've done amazingly well this year."

Boesterd, who only a few minutes earlier had sent the walkers and riders on their way at the Tillsonburg Community Centre, a 3 km walk around Lake Lisgar, did not have final numbers yet but said their 2018 fundraising efforts had surpassed the 2017 total of almost $27,000 with sponsorship.

"Amazingly impressed," Boesterd smiled.

Later in the afternoon, they announced the fundraising total of $31,000. Top fundraising teams and individuals included Accountability ($255), BDC ($470), ECI ($5,565), Fishing for a Cure ($6,805), Bill Pratt ($4,170), Mount Elgin (United Church - $860), Ormerod Family ($2,945) and the McLaughlin Family ($2,220).

Violet Ormerod, who passed away in December 2017, was a volunteer with the Oxford Branch of the Canadian Cancer Society for many years, said Cayla Smith, speaking on behalf of Violet's relatives before Sunday's walk and ride.

"She volunteered in many capacities including canvasser, driver, lead organizer of daffodil sales, and branch member," said Smith. "Violet was the most selfless person you could ever meet and her passion for the Society was incredible. Not only did Violet dedicate many years to volunteering with this Society, but she also encouraged her family to become involved as well. Her daughters Pat (Boesterd) and Lori (Smith) were recognized this year for 20 years of service with the Cancer Society. And four of her grandchildren became involved in the local branch."

"Our dad had cancer back in..." said Pat Boesterd.

"Throat cancer," Lori Smith nodded.

"Probably 35-plus years ago," said Pat. "From there she just joined as a volunteer, then as a driver, canvasser. She was in charge of the daffodils for a while..."

"When we did the live daffodils," Lori nodded.

Both sisters Ormerod eventually volunteered, joined by children and grandchildren.

"When she asked us to join, you can't say no to mom, right?" Lori smiled. "And we're all still in it, all still here.

"And she's still here with us," Lori added, looking upwards. 

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