Mother's death inspires teen to bike across Newfoundland
Young woman already nearing fundraising goal, with bulk of trip still ahead of her
A teenager from Corner Brook is cycling from St. Anthony to St. John's in memory of her mother, and to raise money for cancer patients who have to travel across the island to receive treatment.
Maike van Niekerk, 19, said her mother died of breast cancer, but that experience has inspired her to reach out and help others.
She hired a trainer and spent her summer peddling, leaving St. Anthony on Friday to make the cross-island trip to bring attention to cancer patients who have to travel to St. John's for radiation treatment.
"I just wanted to experience some of the things that the cancer patients were experiencing."
The trip is called Katrin's Karepackage, in honour of van Niekerk's mother, a nearly 1,100-kilometre trek across Newfoundland with a goal to raise $30,000.
Ambitious plan surprises family
Money raised will go toward a partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society to help pay for the cost of travel for patients who need to get their treatments in St. John's.
While van Niekerk has helped with fundraisers in the past, this is her most ambitious project. She said her family was a little shocked when she let them in on her plan.
"At first my dad was a little skeptical of the whole idea, but then as he realized that I was really training and working hard [so] he got on board," said van Niekerk.
Van Niekerk has already raised close to $26,000 of her target, with the bulk of her journey still ahead of her, and hopes her mother would be happy with her efforts.
"I think she'd be extremely proud of me. I think she'd be kind of in a bit of disbelief just because she wouldn't think that I would bike across the province," she said.
If the trip goes as planned, van Niekerk expects to bike into St. John's on Aug. 13.