Students at Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby raised more than $23,000 in honour of former Durham College (DC) student and one of their own. They held an ‘Inside-Ride’ for their second Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation (CTCACF) fundraising event.
The money raised was dedicated to André Boothe, a three-time cancer survivor and former student, who died Sept. 22 of medical complications following cancer treatment.
Almost 250 students and teachers participated at the event. The high school gym was filled with stationary bikes, and teams of six, all dressed in fancy costumes. Each team took 10-minute turns to ride the bikes in a friendly competition and team building atmosphere.
Boothe had battled with neuroblastoma, a cancer which attacks the nervous system, since the age of six. He later developed leukemia, a cancer of the blood which required a bone marrow transplant. This procedure was unsuccessful and Boothe needed a double lung transplant.
Boothe, who was 24, was one of the children who CTCACF helped transition to higher education by supporting the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) Special Academic and Vocational Training Initiative (SAVTI). This program supports teens who have to leave school for cancer treatment and facilitates a smoother transition from high school to college.
Boothe was registered in the Community Services and Child Studies Foundations program at DC in 2013, but passed away early in September.
“This is an amazing event, very inspirational,” said Marlene Boothe, André’s mother. She and André’s aunt, Malvia Davis, said they were honoured to be there.
In a moving video on the POGO Facebook page, Boothe said his life goals were “to do something with kids who have experienced a serious illness like me. I feel I have an experience to share, something that could benefit them.”
Unfortunately, Boothe did not live long enough to fulfil his dream but he did inspire students, teachers and volunteers to get back in the saddle and raise awareness and money for the cause.
The indoor cycling ‘party with a purpose’ required the participants to raise a minimum of $50 to attend. Forty-one road bikes were mounted and mileage and speed were measured on odometers.
“André was extremely brave, he never complained and always thought of others,” said Nicole Hardy, a teacher at Sinclair Secondary school. “He worked hard to reach his goals. He wanted to help inspire other young people with critical illnesses to maintain hope.”
CTCACF is Canada’s leading charity for fighting childhood cancer. Their objective, according to their website, is to direct 100 per cent of the funds they raise to programs and charities that improve the survival rates and quality of life of children and their families living with and beyond cancer.