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Catherine Pickup

Catherine PickupPlease Sponsor MeRead My Blog

Age: 35

Occupation: Piano teacher/composer/performer

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

My biggest physical accomplishment(s) to date: Tour for Kids Weekend Ride 2007, Tour for Kids Epic Ride 2008

In the News: Pianist Raises Funds to Battle Kids Cancer

From point shoes to clipless cycling shoes

If you asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing right now, cycling wouldn’t have come close to the list of possible answers.    Terms like pulling, drafting or hammering would only have succeeded in putting a confused expression on my face.  No, in those days, dance terms such as battement fondus, grand jete en tournant or pirouette en dedans were the norm. I was immersed in the dance program at York University first completing my BA and then MA degrees and I spent many hours in the studio studying ballet, modern, choreography and dance theory.   Choreography was a great interest of mine and I was creating works that explored the coexistence of music and movement, experimenting with the use of gesture to create sound.  However, in the last year of my studies, a serious illness led to arthritis in my spine and hips and the impossibility of continuing in my pursuit of a dance career.  I still continued to teach piano and composed music (I have a BMus from Wilfrid Laurier University), but longed for some type of physical outlet.

Sponsor RollIn July of 2007, while I was waiting on the subway platform for a train, a single poster caught my eye that was advertising the cycling event Tour for Kids.  I was intrigued on many different levels, the most important being the cause: childhood cancer.  Okay, I didn’t have a bike, I only had 6 weeks to prepare for the ride, and I had no idea how my back would cope with the physical challenge, but I was determined.  I went home, registered, bought a bike and then began training.  That year I completed the weekend ride, cycling 200 km in 2 days and this past year I completed the Tour for Kids Epic ride, cycling 851 km in 4 days and raising much needed funds for cancer camps. The bike not only gave me back my physical and emotional health, but also gave me a purpose.

Shortly after returning from Tour for Kids this August, one of my piano students, Alec Walsh, was diagnosed with cancer.  Alec is seven years old and in grade two at school, but has had to endure surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, being poked and prodded, as well as hair loss, and many days off school.   Those horrible words, “your child has cancer,” became a reality to the parents of a little boy whom I have taught for the past two years.  I needed to do something and once again I looked to my bike for a solution.  Becoming a Sears National Kids Cancer Rider was a way for me not only to show my support to the Walsh family, but also to raise awareness and money to help Alec and children like Alec live with and beyond cancer.  Each dollar raised, each kilometer cycled, each person made aware of this disease will bring us one step closer to eliminating those horrible words, “your child has cancer.” Alec is my inspiration and I’m dedicating my ride to him and his family.  No one should have to hear those terrible words again.

“I certainly had no feeling for harmony, and Schoenberg thought that that would make it impossible for me to write music. He said, ‘You’ll come to a wall you won’t be able to get through.’ So I said, ‘I’ll beat my head against that wall.’ “  John Cage, American composer