This weekend, locals Tracy Hayes and John Macdonald hosted the first XTERRA: Conquer the Crater event at Kivi Park in support of the Northern Cancer Foundation's Miles Against Cancer fund.
The three-day event welcomed more than 200 athletes from Sudbury and beyond, who competed in a variety of events for the chance to be one of 10 racers invited to the XTERRA World Championships held Oct. 31 in Maui, Hawaii.
Check out photos of Saturday's Kids Day event here.
The Miles Against Cancer fund was started by Hayes and Macdonald in honour of their son Malcolm, to alleviate some of the financial burdens Northern Ontario families face when having to travel for care.
At a young age, Malcolm was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in response to a solid tumour in his right ear, which presented as his face being paralyzed on the right side. His diagnosis alone required a two-week stay in Toronto said Hayes, followed by consistent return trips and a six-week stay for radiation treatment.
"You get told that your kid has cancer and then you either have to suddenly make your way to Sick Kids (Toronto) or CHEO (Ottawa) and you're staying in hotels, you have all these extra costs, you have all this extra stress, obviously, and depending on what type of cancer your kid has means you're going to be staying in those accommodations for a time," said Hayes.
"We're hoping to help with that."
Malcolm required 46 weeks of chemotherapy to become cancer-free said Hayes, which would critically lower his white blood cells to the point that he would be admitted to the hospital every 3-5 weeks. Thankfully, said Hayes, some of this treatment could be completed locally, which is not always the case for those in Northern Ontario.
While the Northern Cancer Foundation is just around the corner for Hayes and her family, she said those in Timmins, Chapleau or Sault Ste. Marie for example, are forced to visit Sudbury for their follow-up appointments. This can mean a considerable time off work and stress to a family's dynamics if one parent is forced to stay behind, said Hayes.
Having come to the end of their cancer journey, Hayes said she and her husband were inspired to support other Northern Ontario families through treatment and help raise awareness by introducing "amazing athletic events."
An athletic theme was a give-in for Hayes, who in addition to being a family physician passionate about health and wellness, shares a love of cycling and running with her husband. The two competed in an XTERRA duathlon in the past, which eventually inspired them to choose the international event as a partner.
Hayes competed in the mountain bike portion of XTERRA: Conquer the Crater's triathlon Sunday, with two of her close friends.
Hayes said she and her husband hope to make this an annual event, more similar to the style of a festival rather than a standard race; with an emphasis on family and fun.
Those interested in supporting the Miles Against Cancer fund can do so here.