Unapologetically Canadian
Unapologetically Canadian

Episode 60 · 1 month ago

The Great Cycle Challenge Canada Fundraiser


We are now in the second week of the Great Cycle Challenge in Canada. I thought this would be a good time to meet Ian Parker, who directs fundraising for the Sick Kids Foundation.

We spoke about inspiring Canadians who cycle to raise money every August, the community created through our efforts, the importance of diversity and gratitude for Canadians who give.

My name is Tracy Ariel and I am unapologetically Canadian, and welcome to unapologetically Carenadians. The latest season where we focus on ancestors, businesses, creators and community in Canada and Um, this week we're going to be focusing on community. Uh, the whole month of August, a bunch of US use our legs to raise money for cancer and join a moment of other people to uh participate in a community that really cares. Um, my interview within Ian Parker can give you more information about all about it and I'd love to hear about what you're doing this summer too, and drop me a line if you can. And here's the interview. Okay, so, hello, my name is Ian Parker. Um, I am a member of the Siki Foundation Special Lens Team as a coordinator. Um, and more specifically, my role for this year and for the next few months at least, is I am the manager for the Great Cycle Challenge, which is our largest fundraiser. It is a month long annual campaign taking place in the month of Augustum, but, as I will eventually tell you as well, underway and we've already started fundraising and hoping to get a good head start and crush our goal for this year. Yeah, and I'm I've participated. This is my third year and I've already raised three five dollars, so I'm all happy. Five dollars ahead of me. So yeah, yeah, raise money. I thought I should probably do this for myself too. Yeah, yeah, well, I'm I'm raising money on behalf of my mom, died in two thousand and tens, so I'm writing. I'm writing in her memory. So this is one of the annual fundraises that I do for myself in her memory. That's really sweet of you. Yeah, so I think it's Um, it's actually very motivating to work with a whole of other people who are raising money for research. And what...

I like about this challenge as well is that you do it as part of your regular life. It's not you don't start in one place and end in another place. There's no and you can do whatever works for you, and I think that makes it around the neighborhood every day, but you're still making a difference. Yeah, which is basically the way I've done it, like I've done my three D colters just by biking around my neighborhood. So for me, I'm the same anytime I bike to the grocery store, I bi to get a haircut. I thought, all right, that's a kilometer or that's a little bit. It's it's a small thing, like I look at a kind of the same way look at donations. is in two small things, like one or five or time that adds up to be lost. Yeah, and so anybody in Canada can participate by by being part of that. Can you tell me a little bit about how it started? Yeah, so, Um, it started back in two thousand and sixteen. I was actually founded by a team in Australia. So they were the ones who came up with the concept of it. So GCC actually takes place in Canada and Austra really in the United States. Um. So they came up with the idea a little bit before and basically said, okay, this is doing really well, we want to spread it. Um. So they actually reach out to a children's Hospital in Canada that does a lot of good work called sack kids, and Um, we got on board that. We thought it was just a fantastic idea. I'm not entirely sure which hospital they work with in the United States, but I know that it is going on there as well. Um, and yes, after they proposed us the idea, they kind of said, we'll work on kind of the promotion stuff, but we would like Canada really take the lead and work with the communities around to get things going. And so that was in and it's now blossom to where it is today and we've already raised over the past six years over thirty million dollars. So wow. And can you tell me a little bit about where the money is gone? Yeah, so it all goes towards the goal of the great secle challenge, is fighting kids cancer. Cancer is something that affects all of us, but Um, we want to specifically target cancer and children because, you know, no child should be really fighting for their life when they should be... their life. So at sickets foundation, sorry, at sicket's hospital, we have something called the Garant Family Cancer Center, which was opened up back in twenty thirteen, if I recall correctly. Um, yeah, and Um, they are the, I believe, the largest cancer center that we have here in Toronto and we actually take care of not just people from Toronto itself, but also about of all cancer patients here in Canada. And all that money that's raised goes towards research, towards actual treatment pro it's providing for families who maybe can't afford such things like travel costs or, Um, anything else that's really affected them when they're dealing with a child that has cancer. Right and Um. So basically, the money that this is your biggest fundraiser. What are the other fundraisers that you use? So Um too, I would yeah, I would say are two largest ones. We have something called Uh sakets get loud, which is a it's a it's like similar to GCC, a month long campaign where people fundraise. That one's started a little bit more towards families than individual writers such as myself, for yourself. So they raise money with parents and their children and that all come ends with a nice, I want to say, festival swords and a little walk at the very end of the month, and it will be this year at it's called down park, which is located just in the north end of Toronto. Um. So that's one of them. We also have somebody called a million reasons run, which is a very similar concept of GCC, but instead of getting on a bike, you're just running. So I gotta distrap on your shoes and running as many comments as you can and raise as much money as you can, right. And so some of the Um, some of the ways that people get involved is not just by individuals, but they also have teams Um and uh, they also have I mean there's some really big fundraisers. We have some people that really did go above and beyond. Like obviously any amount rais is amazing, but we do know there's some people that are raising like ten,...

...thirteen, fifteen thousand dollars, sometimes over the smallest things like simple donations of five ten dollars or having a big sale, but they just are very persistent, they talked to a lot of people in their community and they have a lot of good connections and that those small donations eventually build up the tune of over ten thousand Um. So yeah, a lot of incredible work out there, but obviously we appreciate everyone, no matter how much they raised, just for contributing to the fight that we're all fighting for. Um. Can you talk a little bit about how the campaign goes, because, I mean I've participated. Yes, of course. Yeah, I'll try to keep it as short as like. Yeah, I do talk a lot of my apologies, but, um, the short version is it is a month long campaign beginning from August first, August thirty one. In terms of the ride. However, it starts now, and what we're telling people is you hop on your bike, you raise money. That's a very gist of it. You can log your kilometers, you can set a goal of either ten kilometers, one kilomb or even not even Hopp you cannot hop on a bike at all, but you set a personal goal, whatever you're comfortable with, and you go around your community, talk to your friends family, shared on your social media and raise funds. You can have people give you cash, you can enter that in online, people can donate director to your page. Whatever way you're able to entertain money is good with us and Um, and people can really fundraised to whatever mount they want to. That was not the best explanation. I'm sorry. That was slightly about all the rest, but yes, that's the short version of it, Um, all right. And then so talk a little bit about it because, Um, this is called unapologetically Canadian. So one of the things that we like to do is talk about the Canadian identity per se. So can you talk about because this came out of Australia. It's in the US. Um can you tell what's what's different about the Canadian version of the Great psychle challenge? Well, I don't. I couldn't tell you too much about how the US does it, but we're Canadids, so we're automatically a little bit better. M would say one thing.

That's kind of one thing that I mean. I've been border raised in Tron on the been about cam my whole life and I've been very village to travel around to so many like if driven across the Vancouver and all the way across the East Coast and well, they always found when I go to especially small towns, is just a sense of community. There are people that come from all walks of life. They have completely different upbringings and lifestyles and yet we all just kind of come together to fight the same cause. And just over the conversations I've been having with people and looking at the GCC friends Canada facebook group that we have where people can come together, I think what really makes a special and difference just how much we care, how how friendly we are, how supportive we are of each other, even if it's someone from BC talking to somebody from Nova Scotia, you can have them connected on facebook and share their story and bring them together by the shared experiences that they have. and Um, sure America might be able to do that, but I think that, Um, we're really unique and just how a supportive and kind we are at everybody, even when we have our strong was as well, because you know, they'll see on a facebook group that people that they're kind of complaining. They maybe have the best intentions but they're not most happy, and instead of people just getting upset with them, they try to bring them back up and remind them that, even if you're not feeling the greatest today, we're all working towards the same thing. And, Um, I always love when to see those stories because it reminds me that there are so many good people out there that just want to help make a difference. Um. And can you talk a little bit about some of the other people who are involved? Yeah, I mean like some individual stories of people. I'm not sure if they're comfortable with me sharing their names, but I can tell you that the moment I first started, I was told that there are some people that really like to go above and beyond, and there's this older woman from Small Town Ontario who managed to raise, I want to say, eleven to thirteen thousand dollars last year, and so I gave her a call and I asked her, Hey, what did you do, like how how did you get from just not knowing about this challenge at all to where you are at this point? And she told me she has this really simple concept of if somebody is living and breathing, they have the ability to donate, and she will seriously go around to a little just she'll be ridding her her bike, wearing...

...her Jersey and she will pass people on the road and sometimes people will actually stop and talking and ask her what she's doing. Every time she tells me she goes to Timmy's or she goes Um to the grocery store, she has her Jersey on and she just asked to cash your hey, would you like to donate any any amount do you have? And she told me a story this one girl that only had a dollar and that girl was so she was like a fifty and sixty and she was still apologetic and the one said Hey, if you give me this dollar and then everyone in here gives me a dollar, I possibly raised fifty and I thought to myself. That's the kind of mindset that I want everyone to have. Is and sometimes a little conversation so you have with people and the small amounts Um that can actually make a big difference a lot of people. Um, what I think is a lot of people want to help, they just don't know how. But if you just make that ask and you strike up a conversation, you're gonna be very successful. And she is our, as of now, I think, our largest fundraiser and, Um, it's really inspired to see what she's doing, especially at her age. She's like, well, don't tell her this, but she's a little bit older, not too old, obviously, because she's still helping out. And you know, we have so many rioters. I don't like that that I've talked to you that they didn't even do anything crazy. They don't host a crazy fundraising event or anything like that, but it's yeah, like I said, the small things that they do. And I can actually tell another fun story that I like. Um, I was looking through just a list of who are a top fundraisers and I noticed that there's this uh, there's this boy who was only five years old and he had raised over ten grant. I believe in his second year and I searched his name. There was even a CBC article done about him. So I ended up calling the MOM and said how did this happen, and she said, well, we actually really started it because we just wanted an excuse for him to get outside and ride a bicycle and do something, Um, and then people saw what he was doing and we're so inspired by it and they got so many members of the community involved. And Yeah, they also just did an amazing job with their fundraising and I thought it's really the most unexpected things. Um, people got to see some kids liking room on the road and next to you know, they're making a huge impact and that's really cool.

What about some of the people who actually work for the organization? Can you talk a little bit? A bit, sorry, kind of remember being the question again. What about some of the people who work for the organization? Can you talk a little bit about them? Yeah, like, UM, their involvement in the G C C. Yeah, well, my director, his name is Jamie Lamos. Um, he is probably the most involved with it. I looked already. He's already at, I think, almost three thousand dollars very eaust and it's not even July yet. Um. So he's always been very involved with it. I believe, Um, one of his family members, I can't remember which has, has been personally backed by cancer. So he, Um, yeah, very passionate about the cause and always does a lot. He's very well connected within the community because of how long he's been doing this and I think the word that he does is incredibly inspiring. Um, and I can even speak for myself. I know I am new, but uh, when I first got hired I thought, Um, the campaign that they were giving me was perfect because I am I'm an avid psyclist. Bike almost every day, um, anywhere I can. and Um, when I was, believe, eleven or twelve years old, my next door to her she was actually diagnosed with leukemia when she was only three years old. Um, at that time I wanted to help in some way and I thought, Oh, let's go to the science or will become a doctor. That I realized science wasn't for me, but my passion for Sake is still remained. And am I always so myself helping out in some way, especially helping children that can't really help themselves. And Uh, now here I am managing the campaign and I just want to get back in whatever way you can really make a difference, because I saw the struggles that not only she went through, but her parents went through Um and how much it affected her family and the whole community, and I just remember there's like there's so many other people that are experiencing the same thing and I want to do my part to make their lives as good as I can. Great, wow, that's a that's an inspiring story too. Um, can you talk about Um? You knew I was gonna. I did warn you that the last question on this is always. Do you consider yourself for Canadian and what does that mean to you? It's actually a funny story because I um yesterday. I was so, as you can tell, sort about my skin tone. I don't...

...look I don't look white, but I was telling I'm talking to friend, my full name is Ian David Parker, and I was telling this personally master me. They're like, okay, what is your background like? Where do you come from? And I told you know the honest answers. I don't fully know because I've adopted Um. I have only known one way of life going up, and that is really being born and raised as a Canadian and to me, like, I guess your question is, what does that mean? Or, like, what what makes mean? But Um, so, yeah, like I, yeah, I consider myself just true blooded Canadian and I always say what it means to me is really just, Um, that's sorry. It's a very good it's a very good question. Um, I just feel a lot of pride being Canadian because I know how how special and unique we are. And obviously we have our struggles, we have our things to work on, but Um, it's really I think Canadians are just we're kind, we're caring where we have that, we have that sense of community, we have that sense of pride of helping others. Um, it's something that I, I always have just found myself being a part of. I've never felt excluded from because we do so much work to make people feel included and welcome, despite coming from any walk of life. And Uh, and my mother, she's an immigrant. My my dad's been here for ages, but they have the exact same lifestyle now and I think that's what makes this place so special is no matter where you come from, you're gonna feel Canadian in some way. Great, thank you very much. I also I'm a huge hockey fan and I boys put on skates a three years old. So there's that too. If you want the more Canadian answer, I grew up skiing, I played hockey. Um, yeah, I had to break in my backyard until I until like global warming got really bad and Um, so I was about fifteen, and then we could consistently keep it right. But besides that, I'd be, I mean in my backyard shooting pucks my garage and breaking stuff all the time. That's more for it is June. I think you wouldn't be in your backyard this time of the year. Yeah, but UH, yeah, I've always tried. You just embarrass all the things...

...and make a special I'm like I, like I've mentioned, I've been very fortunate to travel across by car as well, like not on a plane going over it, but my family, we rented, were not ready. We bought a tent trailer, drove across Um all the way to the West Coast and Um, we didn't have a trail of the time. We've also drimm across to the east coast and that really got gave me the opportunity to just meet so many different Canadians and I realized that because, you know, I'm from Toronto, I'm from the biggest city, and I thought, well, these people have such a different life for me. I'm like like that. If you were to Talsom in Toronto, they would feel like they're in another country. And yet, you know, here I am Um, like what their teen, fourteen, and I'm still able to have just like the same old conversations talking to people how they're doing. People don't even know you're gonna come up like hi, how's your day going? And I thought I love this, this is what I envisioned Canada be. Uh Is, there's people that I always say they're gonna hi, how are you? How's Your Day? What can I do to make your day better? And I really hope that that can continue on. Yeah, and and as managers, so you're tasks over the next six weeks are going to be well, I guess it's more than six weeks. It's, uh, what, ten weeks? Uh, yeah, about that, Um, and it will continue on a little bit into September as well. For the fundraising part, the rode bold does end on the thirty first, but in the same way, the donations can be accepted now. They can also be accepted a little bit after all, the way until the end of September, Um. So yeah, for the next few weeks I'M gonna be talking to a lot of people, just trying to get them on board, seeing how I can take what they've been doing in the past and make it better because, Um, I really see myself as someone that can like elevate people really, but just by giving the resources and opportunities because, as I mentioned, people want to help in some way but they sometimes don't know what to do and they don't have the access to it, Um, so if I can help them do that, I can give them a little step up. That's fabulous. Well, thank you very much for your work and then looking forward to another great experience. Thank you for listening to UNAPOLOGETICALLY CANADIAN.

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