Nearly every day, Sven Nielsen rides his bike from his home in Ladner to his work at the Home Hardware in Tsawwassen where he works as a service counter clerk. The trip is about 10 kilometres and takes between 30 and 45 minutes.
But in late August, Sven rode 25 times that distance over a two-day period, going from Vancouver to Seattle in a bid to help conquer cancer.
The 68-year-old raised $3,700 through friends, family and store customers in order to make the 256-kilometre Ride to Conquer Cancer. He was doing it in honour and memory of his brother-in-law Gerry, who passed away from cancer in February of this year.
"I told him last August that I'm going to ride because he had been diagnosed with cancer," explains Sven. "He said 'that's super' and he helped me with some of the money for the ride. The reason I was riding was because of him."
Sven says he and Gerry used to ride together all the time in Tsawwassen and so the fundraising event was of personal interest to them both.
"Towards the end he couldn't cycle at all but he really encouraged me to make sure I rode on this Conquer Cancer event. There were lots of people in the ride that had pictures on their bikes and momentos of people that had passed from cancer or who were fighting cancer."
Sven says the hardest part of it all wasn't strictly the uphill rides. Raising $3,700 in donations wasn't easy, especially when receiving donations of $5 and $10. The minimum donation amount to enter Ride to Conquer Cancer as a participant is $2,500.
But Sven says some Home Hardware customers were "very generous" once they heard what he was proposing to do. He said that generosity touched and surprised him at first, but in conversations with the donors he realized people had similar stories of family members and friends who were lost to the disease.
"Everybody's been touched by cancer. I don't think there's anybody that hasn't. So a customer would say, 'Here's $100, I believe in you and I want to see you ride."