When Emily Horkley decided to participate in the Great Cycle Challenge Canada, she had never been an aggressive biker. It didn’t matter, Horkley was determined to participate. The cause, fighting childhood cancer, hits close to home.
When she was fifteen years old, a fellow student, Georgie, in her school in Cambridge, England, was diagnosed with cancer.
“We had Music class together. She was the first person I knew that had cancer,” says Horkley. “I was told by her brother and I broke down.”
Georgie died within a year of diagnosis. The idea of her never having to the chance to finish school and miss the joy, drama and heartache of being a young adult hit Horkley hard.
“It broke my heart,” she says. “Georgie was a kind girl and wanted to be a straight A student. She worked hard and was friendly to everyone.”
In the years since Georgie’s passing, Horkley has had family members, coworkers and friends go through the trauma of cancer.
“So many people have either suffered or are supporting someone close to them suffering. I did the Great Cycle Challenge because I had to. for myself, for Georgie, and for the kids that don’t get a chance to have a childhood that I had.”
The Great Cycling Challenge is an annual event, celebrating its third year in helping raise money to help fight kids’ cancer. In that short time, it has grown to be the largest bicycling event in Canada. People of all ages and fitness levels across Canada set biking goals for themselves, and every June they try to achieve them. Since the Great Cycle Challenges inception, it has seen thirteen provinces and territories participate. Cyclists have clocked up a total of 6,709,204 kilometers and raise $7,896,090 to support research and treatments for childhood cancer.
Horkley’s original fundraising goal was set at $200. As of May 28, she has surpassed $1,200. She is provincially ranked 23rd in the challenge.
Family, friends, her boyfriend and the Revelstoke Credit Union have been supportive of Horkley’s endeavours. Some have joined her on rides, some have sponsored her, and others are just there to cheer her on.
Her challenge will start this Saturday, June 1. For fifteen days come rain or shine, Horkley will bike 14 km per day for a total of 210 km. Her training rides range from 15 km to 22 km and she has invested in a pair of comfortable biking shorts.
“My training began in early April. It’s simple and anyone can do it,” she says “I use an app to track where I go and I take my time doing it. The Great Cycle Challenge gives you the option to manually enter your distance in case you’re into spin class or stationary bike, which can let you switch it up.”
A personal goal for Horkley is reaching the end of the pavement down south, and then biking back again, within her fifteen days of riding.
Anyone interested in donating can do so online, or in person with cash. Tax receipts can be issued if requested.