Back in 2008, Steve Cohen was hardly what you’d call an avid cyclist. But that all changed when seven of Steve’s friends and family members were stricken with cancer.
“I remember I was looking to get back in shape when my training partner Tom Saks came down with prostate cancer,” says Steve, president and CEO of Salit Steel in Niagara Falls. “Then several people went down with it around the same time. It was a real wakeup call for me.”
Determined to do something about it, Steve decided to gather a group of cyclists together to compete in The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer—a 200 kilometre cycling trip that takes place between Toronto and Niagara Falls. Proceeds from the event go towards research at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto—one of the world’s leading cancer institutes—to support cancer treatment and research.
Steve was a convincing salesman. By the time he was through, Steve was able to round up 46 cyclists including many of his friends, relatives and employees. The initiative was an incredible success. In that first year alone, Steve and his team were able to raise $268,000 in pledges for the fight against cancer.
Now known as “Steve’s CyclePaths,” the cyclists have done just about everything to help raise money for the cause from bake sales and raffles to pasta dinners and garage sales. And it’s become a winning formula. Since 2008, they’ve raised over $1.7-million for charity. Steve’s team has also grown substantially and now includes over 185 riders.
Steve says getting the opportunity to meet people that have experienced cancer themselves has been a big inspiration to him and his team.
“On these rides, you see all kinds of people whose lives have been touched by cancer,” Steve explains. “They’ll be wearing pictures of someone they’ve lost to cancer or holding up signs along the road that say ‘Thanks for riding for my Dad.’ That’s when it really hits home.”
But the CyclePaths aren’t limiting their fundraising efforts to The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. Next year, they plan to take part in other charities like The Big Move Cancer Ride which will help raise money for the new Walker Family Cancer Centre in St. Catharines.
Fortunately, all of Steve’s friends and family members with cancer have stabilized through ongoing treatments and are on the road to recovery. Some of them have even joined his team.
“Cancer is the plague of our generation,” Steve explains. “But the science is improving all the time. Fifty years ago, these people wouldn’t have been alive. Our goal is to have all of them riding with us. I know it’s going to happen.”
And with 45% of Canadian men and 40% of Canadian women expected to develop some form of cancer during their lifetime, there’s no time like the present for Steve and his intrepid band of cyclists.
“We’re all doing this for the same reason,” he says. “We want to help find a cure for cancer in our lifetime.”