On July 4, 2002, Karen Tobias died after a five-year struggle with breast cancer—but not before leaving a legacy.
A registered nurse, the 53-year-old inspired many with her bravery and tenacity in the face of the illness, a fighting spirit marked by what friends and admirers called an infectious love of life. Even in the final days of her fight with cancer, they said, her character was a source of hope and joy to others.
The Ride for Karen, a gran fondo-style fundraising ride entering its 15th year this summer, is part of that legacy.
To date, the ride—happening this year on Aug. 28—has raised more than $2,285,000 since its first participating cyclist hit the road in 2002. Among its beneficiaries have been cancer support centres and camps for children living with the disease, such as Camp Oochigeas, furthering a mandate to help kids in the fight of their lives. Opportunities for participants include a metric century ride, a longer 160-km imperial century ride and a 200-km double metric century ride—all starting at the Markham Fair Grounds in Markham, Ont..
In a statement provided to Canadian Cycling Magazine, Ride co-founder Kirk Tobias—who started the event with his brother, Kris—discussed how his mother’s mission in life lives on with each set of wheels.
“One hundred per cent of money raised at Ride for Karen goes toward helping children with cancer,” said Tobias. “Our mother’s vision was to inspire hope in those battling cancer and with each pedal of their bicycles, Ride for Karen participants do just that—inspiring hope, and giving kids with cancer the chance to experience camp. We’re grateful for the support we get from volunteers and sponsors that allows us to donate 100% of proceeds from the ride to charity.”
Riders interested in registering for the 2016 Ride for Karen can do so online. This year, the event’s website says, the goal is to raise $200,000, supported by sponsors including Trek Bicycle Store Toronto, Louis Garneau and Scotiabank.