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Cycling health-care workers raise $10K with 300-km ride

Sudbury Riders for Cancer cycle from the Sault to the Nickel City to benefit the Northern Cancer Foundation

More than a dozen cyclists came wheeling in towards the North East Cancer Centre (NECC) on Ramsey Lake Road on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. 

They were damp from the rain, but they were smiling as they met the end of their long bike ride. 

Their three-day journey from Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury wasn't just for the health of it, though - it was a mission to raise money for the Northern Cancer Foundation (NCF). All of the proceeds will support the foundation's work of supporting the work, and the patients, of the North East Cancer Centre (NECC). 

Dr Sathish Gopalakrishnan (more commonly known as “Dr. G” to his patients), a physician in the oncology unit at the NECC, led the initiative, dubbed the “Sudbury Riders for Cancer” fundraiser. With a goal of reaching $5,000, they doubled that amount by raising a little over $10,000 for the NECC.  

Besides Dr. G the original six riders included Dr. Bhanu Nalla, Health Sciences North ICU, Scott Hancock of CAN-BIKE Canada, Cori Lanigan, RPN (HSN ICU), Ratvinder Grewal, PhD Laurentian University, School of Engineering, Kalyani Nair (Lo-Ellen Park student), and Bernd Wittke, a patient volunteer and cancer survivor.

But what started as six-person crew grew to roughly 15 as the word of the fundraiser got around.

When they finally reached the NECC, they shared hugs and muffins. 

“I’m very happy, in the sense that I wasn’t sure whether I was going to complete it (the bike ride),” Dr. G said. "Now that I’ve completed it, I feel relieved.” 

The 315-km ride was an endurance test in more ways than simply the distance. The group encountered injuries, weather issues and road problems. 

“It wasn’t fun all the way, we all had our demons to fight. I mean, I tore my calf and other people had other injuries, but we still pushed through,” Nalla said. 

During the journey, he said they encountered rough terrain full of gravel and mud, and the weather on the last day wasn’t exactly ideal. But he also mentioned some positive highlights of their expedition. 

“We met wonderful people along the way. We met a guy who was biking from B.C. all the way down to Manitoulin Island. He’s been on the road for five weeks. So he joined us, we had dinner with him last night and he took off to Manitoulin this morning,” Nalla said. 

The group as a collective said they found camaraderie in the sometimes grueling,  yet rewarding experience.

The youngest member of the crew is 14-year-old Kalyani Nair, who is also Dr G’s daughter. She frequently joins her father in group bike rides and when she learned he was organizing this event, she felt compelled to join. 

“Everyone was really nice. Especially Cori,” the 14-year-old said about her fellow biker companion. “Cori helped me so much. She was making sure I was okay and she fed me a lot of orange juice because every time I got tired she said orange juice is going to cure all the tiredness. Honestly, it was awesome having so much company.” 

Nair said she enjoyed setting goals and pushing herself to see improvements. The rest of the group feels similarly in the positive experience as they hope to do this charity again next year.

“We will probably make it an annual event,” Hancock said. “It was that much fun. There’s the benefit versus the personal enjoyment, and the personal enjoyment is much bigger.” 

The donations page will remain open for at least another week, Tannys Laughren, executive director of NCF, said in an email. Visit the NCF website to learn more.


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Eden Suh

About the Author: Eden Suh

Eden Suh in the new media reporter for
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