Saskatchewan

Ladies on Snowmobiles gear up for annual fundraising ride to battle breast cancer

Canora, Sask., snowmobiler Shawna Leson has found creative ways, including harvesting canola, to raise money for this year's annual ride benefiting breast cancer research and equipment in Saskatchewan.

The group has raised nearly $2.5-million over 18 years for research, equipment

Over the last 18 years, Prairie Women on Snowmobiles have raised nearly $2.5-million for cancer research and equipment. (Canadian Cancer Society)

A 1,400 kilometre road trip takes a lot of planning.

Now, imagine you're going to be riding that distance through Saskatchewan in the middle of winter on a snowmobile.

That's something the Prairie Women on Snowmobiles do each winter to focus attention on breast cancer and collecting money for research and equipment.

Over the last 18 years, the group has raised nearly $2.5-million for their cause. 

Shawna Leson, from Canora, Sask., has participated as a support rider in past years, but this year she's taken on the role of core rider, participating in the entire journey. 

"I am a huge believer that when you do good things, good things come back to you" the funeral director from Canora said. "I like to surround myself with people who make a difference in the world.

To participate, core riders have to raise $3,000 minimum, a figure that Leson says intimidated her at first. However, she found support quickly.

"I cannot say enough about our community, " she said. "I raised my minimum in minutes. It was amazing."

She's raised nearly $14,000 so far, and will pick up more donations in the communities that she will ride through in February. So far, she says, the effort has led her to new and interesting things.

She's watched a junior high school volleyball game in support of the cause and even had Santa ride her sled in the community parade. 

During harvest, she also ran a combine for Darcy Korol and Linda Banga. 

Darcy Korol (left) with Shawna Leson after she combined two swaths of land. The value of the canola she harvested amounted to $850, which Korol donated to her fundraising effort. (Submitted by Shawna Leson)

"She picked-up two swaths and had a nice pile of canola in the grain tank, and there was her donation [which amounted to $850]," Korol said . "She did very good at it."

Korol's mother, Marlene, is currently battling cancer and he says donating to the event was something he felt he had to do.
 
"It was a good opportunity to get involved and maybe help somebody down the road in a situation like we are," he said. 

After hearing about Leson's work in the canola field, Korol's friend Bill Ochitwa, who lost his wife, Karen, to cancer, called and matched the $850 donation. 

"It was very emotional," Leson said. "Everybody seems to have someone or know someone who has been affected or impacted by cancer. If you've ever been with your family going through it, you know how helpless it feels."

The Prairie Women on Snowmobiles ride runs from Feb. 2 to Feb. 8 all over the province:

  • Feb. 3 Meadow Lake, St. Walburg , Turtleford, Meota and North Battleford.
  • Feb. 4 Cut Knife, Unity, Kerrobert and Kindersley.
  • Feb. 5 Eatonia, Leader, Fox Valley and Maple Creek.
  • Feb. 6 Gull Lake, Swift Current, Kyle and Rosetown.
  • Feb. 7 Delisle, Biggar, Asquith and Martensville.
  • Feb. 8 Hague, Duck Lake, MacDowall and finally in Prince Albert.

CBC Radio's Blue Sky is doing a monthly segment about good news happening in small communities around Saskatchewan. Have an idea for our next segment? Email us

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