Occupation: Software Engineering Director and Entrepreneur
Family: Married, for 24 years, to my soul mate, Anne Pohlman, whom I met when we were both 14. Father to 3 fantastic kids - Chris 22, Nic 18 and Avery 15
Interests: Adventure = paddling and pedaling (anything/anywhere) + adventure racing + wilderness excursions (mostly whitewater canoeing) + skiing, hockey and music (guitar and piano).
I have always sought out adventure. I have canoed, or kayaked, most of the great parks and white water rivers in Ontario. I have participated in countless adventure races. I have climbed, skied and trekked all over our spectacular country. I credit my Mother with teaching me how to enjoy and care for wild places and appreciate living in Canada, the wildest, and greatest country in the world. My first memory of life is from the bottom of a canoe, in Algonquin Park, in a snowstorm. I was less than 2 years old.
In 1999, I went on a canoe trip with my Mother. She was fit and capable 60 year old woman, excited about retiring from her career as a teacher. Shortly after the trip she was diagnosed with cancer. For the next 8 months, I helped care for her as she fought with determination and courage, while cancer took her vitality, her strength, her dignity and, ultimately, her life.
I was suddenly hyper aware of the impact of cancer. It was no longer an abstract concept or an imagined experience. I had lost a grandfather to cancer and was amazed when I realized how many friends were involved, either directly or indirectly, in a struggle against this terrible plague. I watched as a colleague at work lost his daughter to brain cancer. Holly was 11. It was devastating for everyone. For me, thinking about my Mother’s experience in the context of a child was overwhelming. It was unjust, unfair and wrong. I was reminded of one of my best friends. He lost 2 siblings to cancer. His younger brother was only 7. Frank’s passing left sadness and a sense of injustice that stayed with his family forever. I am touched, moved and inspired when I think of courage and grace displayed by these kids, and their families. I feel compelled to do something to help, but what?
I have challenged myself to constantly look for ways to take a stand against cancer and to honor cancer victims. I donate generously to cancer charities. I left a message for my Mother in a lock box at the top of Mount Rainier and have thrown flowers into many surging rivers in memory of her. I attend dragon boat festivals and always participate in the survivor ritual.
Dragon boating has always been associated with breast cancer and has become a huge part of my life. This summer, in July, Anne (my wife) and I will travel to Hong Kong as paddlers with the Belleville/Pickering HEAT, where we will compete as the defending club crew, senior B world champions. The team’s goal is to bring home the world championship again. For me, it will be in honor of those who have battled, or are battling, cancer.
Four years ago a friend invited me to ride in The Princess Margaret Ride to Conquer Cancer. I have participated in this event ever since. Most recently I have ridden as a bike tech, fixing bikes and making sure that people are able to reach their goal to finish the 200 km ride with almost 5000 others. This year the ride raised $18.1 million for The Princess Margret Foundation. Just as important is the fact that many of the riders are cancer patients or survivors. The ride helps them exercise some control over their world by reaching a, seemingly, unattainable goal. It is a joy filled weekend where people turn away from their circumstances and celebrate life.
When I discovered the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride I was ecstatic. For me, it represents a perfect intersection of my passions. I get to ride my bike in the ultimate adventure while taking a stand against cancer. I get to talk to people in my community and enroll them in our fight against cancer. I get to visit hospitals across our great country and spend time acknowledging and encouraging kids. I get to surround myself with people who are committed to making a difference and are doing something about it. I get to raise $25,000 and have a direct impact on the lives of children who’s future depends on our help.
I am honored to be a Sears National rider. I will ride with the determination and courage that my Mother, Holly and Frank showed during their fight. Please join me by providing your support. Take a stand.