Local Men Set Out To Bike 500 Kilometres In 24 Hours To Fundraise For Enliven Cancer Care Muskoka

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Fundraiser for Enliven Cancer Care Muskoka
Photo by Scott Turnbull

Locals Scott Turnbull and Gavin Hammond are taking to the roads of Muskoka on August 7 to bike 500 kilometres in 24 hours, and they’re doing it all in support of Enliven Cancer Care Muskoka.

Turnbull and Hammond have been cycling together for years and over that time, the distance of their rides has continued to increase. They’ve done a number of 200- and 250-kilometre rides, so when they got the idea to do a 500-kilometre ride, their longest yet, they thought it would be a great chance to raise money for a good cause. A quick look around led them to Enliven Cancer Care Muskoka, Turnbull said, which is a cause that’s close to both of their hearts.

“[Enliven] helps people who have recently had a cancer diagnosis, helps their caregivers and families, and also survivors just navigate living well with that cancer diagnosis,” Turnbull said. “While our medical system is fantastic in Ontario, when you get diagnosed with cancer, it can be a very lonely and scary place to be, and Enliven really helps people move forward and live their best with those terrible diagnoses.”

They initially set out to raise $1,000, but after receiving two $1,000 donations early on, they decided to up their goal to $20,000. In the first two weeks of fundraising, they’ve raised nearly $13,000, and there’s still more than a week left before their ride.

Scott Turnbull
Scott Turnbull. Photo courtesy of Scott Turnbull

Turnbull and Hammond haven’t fully nailed down their route, but they plan to go from Windermere to Washago to MacTier to Huntsville with lots of points, and a few pit stops, in between. Their friends at Dads of Muskoka, a community group for men with kids, will be driving along with them to offer support.

They’re nervous and excited for the ride, which will include cycling in the dark, but more than anything, they want the focus to remain on Enliven and the work they do. The two men are even considering making the ride an annual event to bring more money and attention to the organization.

“We’re really privileged to be able to bring this to light and pretty privileged to be healthy enough to be doing this,” Hammond said. “I’m honestly excited just to be spending a day with a good friend of mine and parlaying an adventure into something positive for our community.”

Both Turnbull and Hammond have been impacted by cancer a great deal, especially in the last year. They’ve lost loved ones and watched many others live through cancer, which is why Enliven’s mission and programming speaks to them so much. They feel compelled to raise money and spread awareness for the organization, particularly because it offers local support when so many people have to travel south for treatment.

Gavin Hammond
Gavin Hammond. Photo by Scott Turnbull

“It’s incredibly hard to be dealing with a horrible disease, not only the physical but the mental strain, and then, every time you need anything whatsoever, have to leave your community,” Hammond said. “I think the biggest thing for me was to have an organization like that to keep people in our community to receive the help and care that they need.”

Taude Plexman, executive director for Enliven, is a cancer survivor and knows firsthand the difficulties of traveling during cancer treatment. She received most of her treatment in Barrie, so discovering Enliven meant a lot to her and it’s meant even more to see it grow.

“When I learned of Enliven when I was sick, they were in Huntsville and I was in Bracebridge, so I love that there’s something here that has begun locally, but to see it expand south to Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, that’s amazing,” she said. “When [people are] sick, it’s hard to travel. People want something in their own communities, and while we all live in Muskoka, it’s nice to offer it as local as we can for each participant.”

As the organization continues to grow, they plan to bring on more board members in the fall, but in the meantime, they continue to expand their programming. In order to provide social, emotional and physical support, Enliven offers wellness fairs, monthly information sessions and programs ranging from nature immersion and art journaling to yoga and strength training, just to name a few.

Fundraiser for Enliven Cancer Care Muskoka
Photo by Scott Turnbull

Plexman is delighted to see Turnbull and Hammond raising money for Enliven while also spreading the word about their role as a support system for patients, survivors and caregivers during and after their experiences with cancer.

“This will help us offer more programs for the community, [and] that’s what I’ve wanted all along,” Plexman said. “That’s what I needed when I was going through treatment and post treatment because it doesn’t finish when you’re done treatment.”

It’s astounding to see so much money already raised, she said, but she’s not particularly surprised by it given the overwhelming support she received during her own treatment. From everything she’s seen while living in the region, Muskoka steps up when people need help.

Cat Brown, head of Enliven’s fundraising committee, said this is the first time community members have taken it upon themselves to organize a fundraiser on behalf of the organization. They receive some grant money, but much of their funding comes from their annual art auction and other events hosted by their board.

“We can only do so much as a board to fundraise on our own, and having them do something that they’re excited about and have people support them is just amazing…” Brown said. “We can’t run Enliven without the community support and we’re just fortunate to have such a generous and caring community around us.”

To make a donation in support of the ride, click here. To follow along with the ride on August 7, visit the Dads of Muskoka Facebook page, or visit Turnbull and Hammond’s Instagram pages. For more information about Enliven Cancer Care Muskoka, visit their website

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