One Peninsula resident is taking her personal story of dealing with ALS through the province this summer.
Cindy Lister, a Grade 3 teacher at Deep Cove elementary, will cycle from Kamloops to Hope this August on an inaugural bike trip she’s dubbed the Cycle of Hope.
“Our main goal with this ride is to raise awareness. We do have a small monetary goal, but that’s really not our focus,” Lister said.
Lister, who lost her father to ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, late last year, says her drive to raise awareness and funds comes from the fact that there’s no known cure for the disease yet.
“To me, it’s so sad when people get diagnosed with this disease because basically they know it’s just the end, there’s no way to cure it or stop it – there’s no hope,” Lister said. “And really, what is life without hope?”
This year’s cycling trip will be Lister’s scouting mission for following years and she won’t be doing it alone. Since January, Lister has been training with a group of six other women who will go along with her on the journey.
“None of them knew one another before this,” Lister said of the group which is made up of friends from cycling groups, personal connections and work associates. “I seem to be the only common link [between them], but we have made an incredible connection.”
Lister said the group is lucky to have cyclist JP Robinson as their coach.
“JP is a huge asset to our team,” Lister said. “He’s just so supportive and open and he encourages us to always be open with each other. That’s essential when you’re cycling as a group – you need to be an open book out there. When you ride together as we do, you really need to learn each other’s strengths.”
Robinson has trained Tour de Rock Cops for Cancer teams and most recently he trained riders for the Tour de Victoria, which happened June 24.
“We train three times a week with JP,” said Lister. “Tuesday night is hill night, so we normally go to the observatory and go up and down as a pack multiple times. We also do a speed night during the week and then we have saddle time on Sundays where we ride a minimum of 75 to 80 kilometers.”
One rider, Robin Farrell, a DJ with Kool FM, has ridden the Tour de Rock and Lister said that is a constant benefit to the team.
“We’ve all learned a lot from Robin and some of us took the Tour de Victoria clinics last year so I feel great about the team and how close we are,” said Lister. “Selecting your own [riding] pack is incredible. We know each other on a personal level and the communication during rides is amazing.”
Lister’s Cycle of Hope has garnered Support from ALS Canada, and she says they want the ride to go nation-wide.
“ALS Canada wants the Cycle of Hope to go to Toronto,” laughed Lister. “I said, ‘Let me at least do it here first.’”
Lister said during the ride, the team will be wearing the black crow logo she designed – something she holds close to her heart.
“Our logo is a crow because when my dad passed away there was a crow in the back yard, just hanging out. Ever since then, I see them everywhere and notice them all the time and it reminds me of my father,” Lister explained. “Some people think they represent evil or are nasty, but to me it’s something beautiful that reminds me of my dad.”
The ride departs on Aug. 8 and will travel 660 kilometers over nine days. Lister hopes cyclists will join in during the event and that over the next few years it will grow.
“We’re definitely planning on making it into an annual event,” said Lister.
The team is raising funds through an account at the Sidney Bottle Depot and their website by way of an online auction. The auction features autographed jerseys from local cyclist Ryder Hesjedal and local NHL player Jamie Benn. A signed hockey stick from local AHL player Matthew Irwin is also up for grabs. Visit cycleofhope.ca for more information.