A motorcycle ride that left Airdrie on Friday (June 22) on it's way to Kamloops and back was being done in honour of a brave little boy who lost his fight with cancer over five years ago.
The annual Kinsmen Ride for a Lifetime in support of Kids Cancer Care left from Mr. Mike's Steakhouse in the city. The cyclists make their way to Jasper, then head to Kamloops before coming home. In the 16 years the event's been held, over $3 million has been raised for research into children's cancers and to send kids with cancer to camp. Meagan Gough, the Marketing and Communications Specialist with the Kid's Cancer Care Foundation says the goal this year is $100,000.
Chris and Megan Crowell and their children, Evelyn age nine, Ryan, eight and four year old Joshua served as the honourary ride marshalls for the event. The Crowell's oldest son Christian was diagnosed with an extremely rare, and aggressive, form of pediatric cancer when he was three years old in 2011. His parents learned he had a mass the size of a mini football inside his abdomen.
He battled the disease through rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, radiation, stays in Intensive Care, a stem-cell transplant, and many surgeries for two years before the disease claimed his life on January 14th, 2013. Christian was five years old.
His dad Chris, a teacher at A.E. Bowers School in Airdrie, was anxious to share what Christian was like. He says, "Just a brave little soul. He was just a trooper through the whole journey, right even to the end. He was loving, he could capture the room around people. Through his whole journey, it was like he was teaching his parents. He was a pretty amazing, special little boy. He was athletic, had a great sense of humour. Just like an old soul."
When his mom Megan first took Christian to the hospital, Chris suspected it was his appendix. When she called the next morning to tell him the news, Chris wasn't ready to hear the word cancer.
"After she called me and said it was cancer, it wasn't real. That was the first time I dropped to my knees. I had the two little ones at home and life changed in an instant. I was a school teacher and a hockey coach but then my new job came and it was going to last for two years. It was devastating but at the same time, you had to pick yourself and be the father of the family and try to be strong for Christian and the rest of my family. That news you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy."
Chris says the two years that Christian battled cancer taught his family many things. "Through everything forgiveness and love. Life's short and it's fragile. Watching your son receive chemo-therapy and be able to fight through it, be throwing up and then wanting to play a game and not complain. Pretty special learning going on from such a little boy. You can learn and sit back and say, 'if he can do it, I can do it.' Anytime I get a needle now I say, 'I can do this because of Christian.' He received so many needles. Life's just put in perspective and love is the number one thing."
Chris can't say enough about the Kids Cancer Care Foundation. "It's just an amazing organization that tries to help anywhere they can with pediatric cancer, whether it's research or just supporting families. These riders today, raising the money they've raised, and going on a ride that remembers and supports the children that have battled, it's a wonderful thing."
The riders all wore buttons with a picture of Christian. Another tribute to a very special little boy.