Cancer patient Paul Stanley of Whonnock rode his bike to the hospital Wednesday, where he was to undergo his third surgery in the past two years. He said little could stop him from participating in the Great Cycling Challenge to help sick kids. (Special to The News)

Maple Ridge cyclist fundraises all the way to hospital for cancer surgery

A retired Whonnock teacher bikes each year to raise money for Canada’s sick children

Paul Stanley was set to go under the knife Wednesday for his third cancer-related surgery in two years.

But first, the 69-year-old retired school teacher planned to ride one more leg – 19.4-kilometre-long to be exact – in his month-long Great Cycle Challenge to raise money for sick kids across Canada.

He literally rode his bicycle from his home in Whonnock to Ridge Meadows Hospital ahead of his surgery.

Of course, he joked, he wasn’t expecting he’d be in any shape to ride back home again, so he arranged to meet his wife, Gloria, there to take his bike home.

“I figure I might get some more donations that day, although I pretty well have contacted all my friends and family,” he added.

RELATED: Quintuple open heart surgery motivates Maple Ridge cyclist to ride for kids

Stanley is one of hundreds of riders who, during the past four years since the ride’s inception, has cycled some 10 million kilometres and raised almost $12.5 million to support research to develop treatments and find a cure for childhood cancers.

“My goals were 100kms and $500. I had to plan conservatively due to my health issues,” he said, explaining that two years ago he was diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer.

“Since I am still battling cancer myself, I have to be careful how much I can pledge to ride and my donation goal, since I never know what my health will be at the time,” Stanley said.

“I have ridden 177.6 kms and hope to do a lot more,” he told The News just ahead of his surgery. He noted that as of the Wednesday morning he’d already raised $2,300-plus, with a lot of his donations come from students he taught at Burnaby North.

“I had seen cancer effect students at my school, personally and within their family,” said the former Burnaby high school teacher.

“I was not, and still not an avid cyclist, but I started training for the ride. I rode mostly in Maple Ridge and Mission, but twice rode to Burnaby North from our home in Whonnock,” he said, explaining how his desire to ride in fundraisers began.

He signed up for his first Ride to Conquer Cancer back in 2011, but a week before the ride “got sciatica” and couldn’t participate.

He still managed to collect about $4,500 that year. So in year two, he did make the ride, to Redmond, Wash., and again managed to raise in the neighbourhood of $3,500 for the cause.

Four years ago now, he learned about Great Cycle Challenge Canada – a Toronto-based fundraiser for Sick Children Foundation – and redirected his efforts there.

“This ride seemed better suited for me, in that you can set your own goals and do it within a month. Usually it is in June, but because of COVID, they moved it to August,” Stanley said, noting that in his first three years, with GCCC he managed to ride 1,143 kms and raise $8,266.32.

In previous years, he has dedicated his rides to friends who have battled cancer.

This year, he joined a nation-wide team dedicated to a young boy, Alex, who is battling cancer. He has relapsed twice and is now in palliative care. The team goal was $250,000, and to date they have raised $567,233.

Those wishing to learn more about Stanley’s quest, or to consider donating, can visit his GCCC website.


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