Have fun, raise money, and improve your health at summer fundraisers

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Terry Firestein remembers experiencing aches and pains all over his body in 2007. His doctor figured it was arthritis and suggested that he take anti-inflammatories. The painkillers didn’t help, and more time passed.

Then the Maple Ridge resident started noticing black stool. Several medical tests later, he got the kind of news everyone dreads: cancer.

Firestein, a father of two, was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes. Along with surgery to remove part of his colon and some of his small intestine, Firestein had chemotherapy for six months.

“It was such a shock,” Firestein says. “It wasn’t easy to go through.”

It was especially surprising because of his age at the time: Fire-stein was just 41. He’d lost his father to lung cancer only a few months earlier. Some of his relatives had had colorectal cancer, but they’d all gotten the disease much later in life.

Firestein had to face cancer again in 2009, this time in his liver. Initially, he was told he didn’t have much time left. Surgery wasn’t an option, so he endured 16 months of chemotherapy that included the use of a new drug. He says he’s living proof that research dollars work.

That’s why he’s getting ready for the annual Ride to Conquer Cancer, presented by Silver Wheaton. The two-day cycling event, which takes place this weekend (June 14 and 15), benefits the B.C. Cancer Foundation. Riders have a choice of four routes, the original and most popular being a 200-kilometre-plus journey from Vancouver to Seattle.

This will be Firestein’s third time taking part in the gruelling ride.

“It’s a way for me to give back,” he says. “It also helps keep me in shape.”

There are plenty of other fun, fitness-oriented events taking place in and around Vancouver this summer that raise funds for good causes. Read on, and maybe you’ll be inspired to get moving for charity.

Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K

June 22

Rather than supporting a single cause, this event shares the love with dozens. This year’s featured charities are the Kettle Society, which helps people with mental illness lead healthier lives through housing, employment, job training, and more; the parent-led Cassie and Friends: A Society for Children With Juvenile Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Diseases; and Spinal Cord Injury B.C.

The national charity partner is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, while other beneficiaries include Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, Engineers Without Borders Canada, Right to Play International, and the Sasamat Outdoor Centre.

The half-marathon starts at UBC’s Thunderbird Arena and ends at the Fish House in Stanley Park, which is also the starting and finishing point of the five-kilometre walk or run.

ACCESS Urban Aboriginal Charity Golf Tournament

June 27

This second annual tourney supports the Urban Spirit Foundation, which provides education, training, scholarships, grants, and short-term poverty relief to urban aboriginal people. The shotgun start gets under way at 1 p.m. at Richmond’s Country Meadows Golf Club, with prizes for men’s and ladies’ longest drive as well as men’s and ladies’ KP (that would be “closest to the pin” for you nongolfers out there). A dinner, a silent auction, and door prizes follow.

RUSH: Race and Urban Scavenger Hunt

June 28

Teams of two compete to finish a home-grown version of The Amazing Race, trekking all over the city. The start and finish line is Jack Poole Plaza, next to the Vancouver Convention Centre; it’s up to participants to figure out what’s in between by deciphering clues, finding checkpoints, and completing various physical and mental challenges. Funds raised go to the B.C. Lung
Association, which supports the one in five people in the province who have breathing problems.

The B.C. Cancer Foundation’s Underwear Affair

July 5

There’s a competitive 10-kilometre running race, a fun five-kilometre walk, and a “Booty Hunt” throughout the city. Regardless of your speed or Speedo, all routes call for your best ginch. Past ensembles have included hot-pink bras, cargo boxers, tighty-whities, and purple corsets. It’s all to support underfunded below-the-belt cancers such as those of the bladder, pancreas, prostate, testicles, ovaries, uterus, and colon.

Kayak for a Cure Vancouver

August 23

Benefiting the Canadian Cancer Society and InspireHealth Integrative Cancer Care, this fundraiser has participants taking to the waters of English Bay. Geared to paddlers of all ages and abilities, the event has kayak guides on hand for support, as well as a beach party to wrap things up.

Golfathon for ALS

various dates throughout the summer

People throughout B.C. are teeing up to help those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a debilitating neurological illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to the ALS Society of B.C., it costs an average of $137,000 to cover the equipment required to care for someone with the disease, and nursing or home-care costs can go well above that amount.

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