Obie is the founder of MentorHäus, a mentoring and networking organisation for young female professionals in around Toronto and the GTA. In her spare time, Obie loves to travel, participate in fund raising for non-profit organisations and occasionally enjoys cooking and baking. Obie has kind to share her experience in the Ride to Conquer Cancer with us.
To those looking to support a cause, here’s a little inspiration.
[Dudunorth] What’s the Ride to Conquer Cancer about?
[Obie] The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is an annual bike ride to raise funds for cancer research benefiting one of the top 5 cancer centers in the world – The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in Toronto. Every year riders across Canada sign up to raise a minimum of $2500 in support of Cancer research. Four provinces across Canada participate in this epic ride, Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Being in Ontario I joined the riders in Toronto for a two day bike ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls which is about 250km and it was definitely an exciting, challenging and uplifting experience. There were 5,212 riders from Toronto committed to one cause – finding a cure for Cancer in our lifetime.
[Dudunorth] What inspired you to register for the ‘Ride to Conquer Cancer?‘
[Obie] I like to undertake challenges from time to time however it was never in my grand plan to participate in the ride. Last year I joined an amazing company and my colleague told me about the ride and the epicness around it but I declined to sign up for the 2013 ride. While attending an alumni event for business students I met the President and CEO of Princess Margaret Cancer Center, Paul Alofs and was fortunate to win his book – Passion Capital. After reading the book I decided to do something bigger than me that was not about me and the ride was just the perfect thing.
[Dudunorth] When you decided to proceed, what factors did you initially consider. What did you think the process would be like in achieving your goal?
[Obie] I signed up, attended an orientation and I was pretty stoked to be a part of the ride. Fundraising at that time seemed easy since I had 9 months to reach my goal of $2500. So I reached out to friends, family and colleagues requesting for donations, however I quickly learned that fundraising was an art of it’s own and people would not give up their money just because you are passionate about something. It had to be more strategic and have something of value for the donor as well. So I considered a couple of things like selling candy door to door which failed, next I thought of hosting a benefit soiree after the ride but the event lounge in my condo was not accepting reservations yet. Finally my colleague suggested a bake sale and that was a great success.
[Dudunorth] What steps did you take to prepare? and what challenges did you face along the way?
[Obie] I decided to wing it…haha I kid. Okay I partly winged the ride but I did practice albeit inconsistently. The ride sponsors advise cycling a minimum of 30 minutes twice a week starting at least 6 months prior to the ride. This year the winter was particularly harsh so outdoor training was difficult to undertake. So I did the indoor stationary cycling and now with hindsight a spin class would have been a great alternative for the outdoor rides. Another thing was I honestly did not know if I could remember how to ride a bike so I had to practice as well as learn the bike road signals.
[Dudunorth] Did you ever consider giving up? Why? What convinced you to keep on moving?
[Obie] At some points I considered giving up, I felt like giving up when it seemed as though I was not going to reach my fundraising goal, I wanted to give up when I calculated the cost of getting all the required equipments for the ride i.e. bike, helmet, bike shorts etc. So what kept me going? I really just wanted to do this. I wanted to be a part of this and finally my siblings were great encouragement as well. I would reach out to them when I felt overwhelmed and they just had the right words of encouragement.
[Dudunorth] Highlight a few most memorable experiences in the process that you will never forget.
[Obie] One memorable incident for me was breaking down in my bathroom when one of my fundraising plans failed woefully. I felt like a failure and thought I had let everyone who believed in me down. I remember crying and asking God to help me come up with something else and He did.
[Dudunorth] It’s the night before the ride, how were you feeling? Did the thought, “how did I find myself here?” cross your mind? Describe your range of emotions.
[Obie] The night before the ride was surprisingly calm considering I had just bought my helmet and other bike equipments I had to familiarize myself with that night. I was extremely happy it was all coming together finally and I was really going to do this. I spent the night adjusting my bike, adding finishing touches to my packing and reminding myself of the bike road signals as well as re-reading the newsletter from my amazing team captain, Captain Pete.
[Dudunorth] Its game day. Tell us how it all went down. High’s, lows, was it as tough as you thought?
[Obie] At 5.00am I was up and ready, I had to be at the start line for registration, jersey pick up and opening ceremony. It was overwhelming at first because I showed up alone and didn’t know anyone there, but in time I made friends and felt comfortable. Around 8.00am we were off for day one! Within the first 10km I was rethinking why I decided to do this but my friend Jose’s words really helped me find inner strength and a great strategy for the ride, “Obie this is not a competition it’s a ride. You need endurance over speed and face it you will not be the first but you will not be the last. Just enjoy the ride.” The ride was great until we got to the hills and it was just hill after hill after hill. It was difficult for me but there was no shame in stopping to take a break in the sun, chat and make new friends.
Major highlights for me where completing my first 10km on the first day of the ride, crossing the finish line at Ancaster on day 1, coasting down hills alongside other amazing riders and cancer survivors, riding the last 19km to the Niagara finish line in the pouring rain, a lady stopping me and saying thank you for riding for my husband, strangers cheering me on with shouts of “Obie you can do this!” “Go Obie!” but the greatest for me was crossing the finish line on the second day of the ride with a feeling of fulfilment and accomplishment.
[Dudunorth] Now that the ride is done, what else is on your to-do list?
[Obie] Now that the ride is done, I feel like I can do anything. I think I want to climb a mountain next may be Kilimanjaro, Machu Pichu who knows. At this moment I will just enjoy the feeling of this great personal accomplishment and being part of an amazing team of 5,212 riders that raised a recording breaking $20 million towards cancer research.
It has been a great experience which I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have learned so much from the ride and if you are considering the ride, I’d say do it, sign up for the 2015 ride, you would not regret it – Obie Odunukwe