Every year, for the past five years, mom and daughter Karen and Leah’s summer has culminated with an annual two-day cycling weekend. They train for the BC Lung Association’s annual Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath (Trek) throughout the spring and summer months.
And for the past two years, the event has turned into an even bigger family ritual, with Karen’s husband Fred, and Leah’s husband Ben joining in on the fun, too.
“Karen, Fred, Leah and Ben participate together with a Trek team called Blood, Sweat & Gears, who have raised well over $100,000 in support of vital lung health research, education and patient support programs over the years. We’re extraordinarily grateful for their continuing support,” says Marissa McFadyen, events manager for the BC Lung Association.
Part fundraiser, part weekend getaway, Trek is a fully supported, two-day, 200km ride from Fort Langley to Cultus Lake and back. Participants do the distance, and in return the BC Lung Association delivers a seamless weekend experience including all meals, lakeside lodge accommodation, gear transport, medical and mechanical support, evening entertainment, and even a commemorative Trek 2019 t-shirt.
According to the Lung Association, one in five British Columbians are affected by a lung or breathing condition. The most common condition in B.C. is asthma, affecting as many as 10 per cent of children and adults. The next is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which affects another six per cent of people aged 45 or older, and following COPD is sleep apnea, or sleep-disordered breathing, affecting another two to four per cent of adult men and women.
Add to that the tens of thousands of British Columbians diagnosed every year with lung cancer, afflicted by a fatal condition of the lungs called pulmonary fibrosis, or born with a life-shortening genetic condition called cystic fibrosis. While treatment exists to control and slow down the progression of these conditions, none are currently curable.
Finally, the Lung Association says, there are tens of thousands impacted every year by airborne infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia or worse, the increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacterial killer tuberculosis (TB).
“It is thanks to advances in research and immunization efforts, these infectious diseases remain well controlled in Canada – at least for the time being,” says McFadyen. “And our Trek fundraisers and supporters are helping ensure it stays that way.”
To participate in the event, each Trekker is required to pay a $25 registration fee and fundraise a minimum of $650 in donations. Together Trekkers have raised more than $7 million since the event began some 35 years ago.
“I love seeing all the riders – young, old, seasoned veterans – listening to their stories, sharing the experience, enjoying the food. Everyone is so positive and welcoming,” said Karen Schmelter. “Trek is truly a great weekend – and at the same time a chance to make a difference in the lives of others. I look forward to catching up with all my Trek friends every September – as well as making new ones!”
To learn more and register, visit bicycletrek.ca. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Events Team at the BC Lung Association toll-free at 1-800-665-5864.
To make a donation in support of the Schmelters, or their daughter Leah and her husband Ben Vegt, visit bicycletrek.ca, click donate and search them by name.