Hailey Rodenhiser, 9, along with her mother and father arrived at the Halifax Sears parking lot early so they could be there to greet the 50 cyclists who biked from Vancouver to Halifax in support of childhood cancer research.
Rodenhiser, from Bridgewater, N.S., was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia 21 months ago. She is in remission now, but still has a few more treatments to go. Her oncologist, Dr. Bruce Crooks, was cycling in the Nova Scotia portion of the race and she wanted to be there.
"He just makes me laugh," said Rodenhiser.
Crooks took part in the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride — a fundraiser where all the proceeds go directly to the cause — last year as well.
Rodenhiser raised more than $2,000 for her doctor in 2015, but when it came time to present the money, she got sick and ended up in the hospital for a month. This year, feeling much better, she was there to give him a hug at the end.
"That's my darling Hailey," said Crooks. "She got here to see us today ... it's fabulous to see that."
More funding needed
Crooks said there is little awareness and not enough funding for children's cancer research.
"This is one way of actually being able to raise the awareness, it raises money, it puts it on the map for people. People who see us when we ride in say, 'I didn't know kids got cancer.' And they do," he said.
"We can cure it in the vast majority of cases, but not all unfortunately. It's actually important that we're able to do this."
Hailey Rodenhiser, 9 from Bridgewater, was there to greet her oncologist Dr. Bruce Crooks. She raised $2,000 in 2015 pic.twitter.com/Lx5oQXMHsV— @AnjuliCBC
The Sears National Kids Bike Cancer Bike ride is in its ninth year now and this year's ride raised about $34,000 for Atlantic Canada. Money collected throughout the ride is distributed to 17 pediatric facilities across Canada.
"I think the main thing that we see is the support with Child Life in the hospital for her. They provide comfort things, everything form teddy bears to blankets and activities. They support the playrooms on the floor," said Rodenhiser's mother, Juanita.
"We were approached in the very beginning about the research aspect of Hailey's disease and how we could help with that and we see the money going towards that, but it's still not enough. There has to be more invested in childhood cancers," she said.
This year's event raised $34,000 for Atlantic Canada. All money goes to pediatric facilities. pic.twitter.com/scwlKieo0v— @AnjuliCBC