Age: Celebrating '60 years of life' at the start of The Ride in June 2009
Occupation: Dental office manager and practice coordinator. I do not define myself by what I do, but rather by the person I try to be regardless of what it is that I am doing
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Family: Married to Peter Stutman, my life partner of 40 years.
My biggest physical accomplishment(s) to date: My life’s greatest ongoing experience is being a mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother to Marla and Micah Goodman, and their son Alexei Matthias in New York City; and to Sara Furnival, Mark Stutman and baby Isla Florence, residing in Guelph, Ontario. My Inspiration.
Paying Tribute and Giving Back
My passion for cycling began 19 years ago when my son, Mark, put me on a bike for the first time since my childhood. At only 15 years of age, he had no idea what he was initiating in my life. I suffered an extremely serious injury that day that left me flat on my back for 3 weeks, but I climbed back on that saddle as soon as I could. As a mother, being a role model for my children was important to me. Having the courage to try again was important to me. And having a sport to do together with my children as they age was important to me. A blessing that so many of us take for granted is that our children and we will grow older together.
Both my adult children now live miles away in different cities, and biking adventure has become a means to unite our family. All of us have wonderful and cherished memories from our travels together. We are so very fortunate to have had the health and privilege that has afforded us these life experiences. We recently gave our grandson his first tricycle and look forward to expanding our entourage on our next cycling adventure!
Last June my life changed when I joined the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride on the Montreal leg of the team’s journey across Canada. After the ride, I listened to the children and parents speaking of their battles with cancer, their triumphs, their emotional trauma and their hope. I did not just hear it, I FELT IT! And while listening to the riders of the 2008 team, I felt their commitment, enthusiasm and magical positive energy. Something in my soul was ignited at that moment – something that I did not know existed there. It was at that moment that I became a woman of action and made the decision to apply for a position on the team for the 2009 Ride.
I feel so privileged to have been selected from so many applicants to be a National Rider in 2009.
My fear of undertaking this enormous commitment is equal to my genuine gratitude for my life’s blessings. I was fortunate to meet these heroic children who, despite their adversities and stolen childhoods, presented such a positive outlook on life. They have revolutionized my thinking about healing; and, this event has become ‘my way’ to pay tribute and to give back.
My cycling is now going to count for something greater than my own recreation. Now I will ride in order to help families and children who are coping with cancer; to raise the funds needed for the research and
resources necessary to fight and win their battles with this brutal disease. My personal challenge in undertaking this ride pales in comparison to what they face. Yes, I will ride from Vancouver to Halifax. Yes, I will train hard to become stronger and faster. Yes, I will climb the Rockies, endure the elements, fatigue and fear.
I will also ride for my father, who died of colon cancer when I was only 23 as well as my greatly loved grandmother and dear aunt who also both died of cancer. I will ride for my cousin who died of brain cancer at far too young an age, and another who has survived Hodgkin’s disease. And I will ride for my only sister who so bravely has gone beyond lung and endometrial cancer.
My fear has become my passion. I pray for the strength of character, of physical body and courage to accomplish this feat.
“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement” - Golda Meir.