- Age: 39
- Hometown: Toronto, ON
- Occupation: Chief Celebration Officer & Founder, MyBabbo
- Family: Happily married to Mirco for 10 years and mom to 2 amazing kids Maya, 9 & Jack, 8.
- Greatest Achievement: I am proud of how our family has pulled together and founded and organized three meaningful annual charity events that embraces the power of community. Create A Smile was founded in 2004 and supports Community Living in their fund raising efforts for the handicapped. Toss’em Up for Childhood Cancer was founded in 2008 and supports the Coast to Coast Association in their fundraising efforts for childhood cancer. Collectively we have experienced the joy that comes from service, building into community and supporting these causes.
Why am I riding across Canada for the Coast to Coast Association?
Our family has been a part of the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride (SNKCR) from its onset. My sister Kelly’s friends, Scott and Meredith Weldon participated in the first national bike ride across Canada. It was also the same time that my cousin Nick Van Dyk was diagnosed with childhood cancer. We had the opportunity to meet Scott and Meredith in Woodstock that year of the ride, and they had the opportunity to meet Nick. They dedicated a part of that ride to him.
The following year after Nick had lost his battle, Sharon Poole, a family friend of the Van Dyk’s, reached out to the family and asked if we could help with her fundraising efforts. The annual Toss’em up for Childhood Cancer fundraiser was birthed and today our family holds two tournaments a summer, raising approximately $35,000 a year for the ride. We are so thankful for the opportunity to pull together as a family to do something in memory of Nick. The fundraiser has become a key event in the fundraising efforts of past SNKCR riders including: Linda Kay, Teri Dermo, Lesleigh Abbott, Josh Van Dyk, Jeremy Mason, and Mark Geene.
So, the seed to participate in this ride has been planted for nearly a decade. So, why sign up now? I am turning 40 this year and I wanted to do something meaningful to mark this milestone birthday. I can’t think of a better organization to be involved with, one where 100% of the donations go directly to the cause. In addition, what an experience of riding across Canada for a great cause to mark as a milestone in my life. The SNKCR reminds me of what is important – health, family, friends, community and service. It has become a part of our family’s legacy to contribute to helping build a future where no parent will hear the words, ‘your child has cancer’.
Last, but not least, I am blessed with two healthy and amazing kids, Maya, 9, and Jack, 8 years old. I am so thankful for them, and my family is the love of my life. My hope is that I will be an example to them and show them that anything is possible. I hope I can inspire them to stretch or GULP (or whatever I am doing) for others and the community. I know this experience will be great for our family and help us recognize what matters most.
So my WHY is threefold: 1) To honour my cousin Nick’s memory and many others that we have met and lost their battle with cancer including: Amanda Allen, Cassy Mann, and Kate Merner, as well as, provide hope for those that are still battling cancer, including: Scott Campbell and Adelle Fitzgerald.
2) To be a bigger part of the Van Dyk family legacy – I am thrilled to be riding this year with my cousin Laura Van Dyk (Nick’s sister) and her boyfriend, Steve Hogan.
3) To be a role model for my children and mark a 40th birthday milestone in my life with a meaningful event.
Please join my WHY and DONATE if you can to this very worthwhile cause that IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE in the research to battle childhood cancer, so that one day a future exists where no parent will hear the words, ‘your child has cancer’. Or if you’re courageous, jump on your bike and join me on this journey. I am very excited that a few friends and family have stated that they will join me for 1, 3 or 6 day legs of this ride. I sincerely appreciate all your love and support.