Be inspired by Phil Calvano
Phil Calvano is not a professional cyclist. Then an acquaintance invited him to The Michelangelo Gala organized by Dominic Dell’Elce, Co-Chair of the 2008 Ride to Conquer Cancer, an event to raise funds for cancer research where they previewed a promotional video of the two-day bicycle ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
Calvano was intrigued by the event and excited about the prospect of raising money for cancer, however, the thought of riding such a distance was daunting; initially so daunting that he did not register for the event right away. “I don’t start anything I can’t finish,” says Calvano, “so I was apprehensive.” Finally he took the plunge and registered. “At that point it dawned on me. I said, ‘I have to do it’. I started out doing short rides. The main focus at first was just getting fit.”
From there Calvano bought some exercise videos and also began training indoors as well. But there were still some challenges in the training process. “When I looked at the training calendar provided by the folks at the Ride I was constantly falling short.” says Calvano.
But then he realized that the mental side of training can be more important than the physical. By overcoming mental blocks about training distances he realized that he could do it physically.
His advice is simple:
“Register. Once you have made the commitment to riding and raising the money you are on the road to success. The people at the Ride to Conquer Cancer are there every step of the way to support you be it for fundraising or training. The support you get pre event is great and it is incredible to hear the cheers and feel the vibe on event.”
Fundraise with Sonya Gusikoski
"I didn't think I would raise enough money to participate," Sonya Gusikoski said.
The first event Sonya participated in was The Weekend to End Breast Cancer. She almost didn't sign up because she didn't think she could raise the money, but because it was the 20th anniversary of her mother passing to breast cancer, she figured she would give it a try.
Not only did she meet her goal amount to walk, but she raised a total of $8,000. The next year she thought she would participate in The Ride to Conquer Cancer because it was her 10 year anniversary of being cancer-free and set her goal amount at $10,000. She wanted to far surpass the amount she raised for The Weekend to End Breast Cancer.
"I didn't find it very difficult," Sonya said. "I just made sure to follow up with everyone."
Sonya raised all of her money just by the power of e-mail. She sent monthly updates of her training and fundraising via e-mail to everyone she knew including her hairdresser and employer. "I don't think people realize how big of a network they really have" Sonya said. "You may think you only have 10 close friends to send emails to, but you have so much more than that. And everyone you ask has probably been personally touched in some way by cancer."
However, even Sonya was shocked as to how well she was fundraising. "I was blown away" Sonya said after she managed to reach her goal of $10,000 in one week. By event day Sonya raised $37,973 and was one of the top fundraisers. But, money kept rolling in after the event and Sonya is now over $53,000. "It does help that I've been through quite a bit and have a personal history with cancer" Sonya said.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 25 and has the breast cancer gene. "However, if you don't have a personal story, others become your personal story" Sonya said. "I am excited for next year and I am so blessed to have terrific supporters behind me."
Be inspired by Mike Naccarata
In 2008 Mike's older sister participated in The Ride. He was so proud of her that he and his nephew started training. During his first and second day of training Mike rode 30 km. However, he didn't expect it would cause him to urinate blood. Although the condition was caused by not being properly fitted for his bike, Mike went to the doctor to see if it was something more. After an ultra sound on December 18, Mike was diagnosed with cancer.
Three months later, on March 20 Mike had his right kidney removed. And in 13 short weeks, he would be participating in The Ride to Conquer Cancer.
"I had zero symptoms, no discomfort and the blood was unrelated to cancer," Mike said. "I was lucky. If I had not decided to participate in The Ride to Conquer Cancer and trained for it, I never would have gone to the doctor and they never would have found cancer."
Mike decided that he would ride for those who cannot ride and for his daughter so that she hopefully never has to fight cancer. "I am very, very lucky," Mike said. "I didn't have to go through chemo or radiation- only surgery."
Not only did The Ride to Conquer Cancer help him discover his cancer, but it was also a reason to quit smoking and get in shape. "It took me an hour to ride three miles because I needed two cigarette breaks," Mike said.
Mike started riding at 300 pounds. He currently weighs 260. "I'd love to lose more so that I can bike even faster," Mike said.
Mike cannot wait to participate in 2010.
"The Ride itself is extremely inspirational," Mike said. "Seeing an entire family out on front lawn huddled under an umbrella clapping for us 3,550 riders. I am getting goose bumps just talking about it."
Fundraise with Geoff Seigel
Geoff Seigel's life was almost dramatically altered as a result of cancer.
His wife Paula was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was pregnant with their second child. She won her battle with the disease and since then the Seigels have been active participants in the struggle to conquer cancer, walking in several Weekend to End Breast Cancer events in Toronto.
When Princess Margaret Hospital launched the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2008, Geoff Seigel was intrigued. He also felt that, despite the $2500 fundraising minimum he could leverage his knowledge of the internet and use technology to go above and beyond that goal.
“Email solicitation has always been my primary means of contact with potential donours,” says Seigel. “The key is to ask boldly. If you ask for $20 that is all you are likely going to get. However, if you ask for $100 you might get $100 or $75 or $50. The Ride is a big bold challenge and asking for big, bold sums of money is thus not outlandish,” says Seigel.
He believes that it is important to personalize your story also. “You have to tell people about you and why you are riding. This does not mean you have to have a tearjerker story. Be honest. Be true. But make it so that potential donors learn about you. Engaging people in this way really heightens your chances of securing donations,” explains Seigel.
In addition to email Seigel also successfully used the Ride to Conquer Cancer Facebook application. This allowed people to donate to him via his Facebook page. “The Facebook app is awesome! I would strongly recommend downloading it. Facebook is a great way to help tell potential donors about your story. I received about 30 percent of my total donations via the Facebook app.”
Technology, Seigel believes, is key part of the fundraising arsenal. “I think that leveraging the power of technology is critical. Email and Facebook made it much easier for me to raise the money.”