(HALIFAX, N.S. – Monday, September 25, 2023) BMO Ride for Cancer reached a historic milestone this weekend as Atlantic Canada’s largest cycling fundraising event celebrated over $10 million net raised since 2015 for local cancer care.
The annual event – which took place on Saturday, September 23 – was forced to pivot due to trail and road damages from the recent post-tropical storm Lee; cancelling the cycling component for the first time in its nine-year history. Despite this obstacle, the BMO Ride for Cancer community rallied like never before – raising a record-breaking $2,372,669 million net in 2023.
These funds mean the ninth annual BMO Ride for Cancer event has fully funded Atlantic Canada’s first and only CAR-T therapy lab at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. This revolutionary and lifesaving immunotherapy is a final lifeline and potential cure for certain blood cancer patients who’ve tried all other treatment options.
1,200 individuals, including participants, their loved ones and event volunteers, came together for an in-person BMO Ride Celebration Festival on Saturday at event grounds (Hobsons Lake Drive, Bayers Lake) – recognizing the incredible efforts of the community and the life-changing impact it’ll have on Atlantic Canadians facing a cancer diagnosis.
- BMO Ride for Cancer is the QEII Foundation’s signature event. 2023 proceeds will fully fund the technology within Atlantic Canada’s first-ever CAR-T therapy lab, as well as fuel future research and clinical trials to potentially expand its use to other aggressive cancers.
- CAR-T cell therapy is an immunotherapy or ‘living drug’ that harnesses a patient’s own immune system to detect and destroy the cancer within their body for the rest of their lives; with at least half of all eligible patients being cured.
- In Canada, it’s currently available for the treatment of patients living with non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, who have not responded to any other treatment options.
- The patient’s t-cells are collected from their blood and genetically changed within a lab to become CAR-T cells. These cancer-fighting cells are then multiplied and reinfused into the patient’s body to attack the cancer like never before.
- The current method in Nova Scotia involves shipping t-cells cells to the United States to be genetically engineered and then shipped back to the QEII, resulting in significant delays and wait times for Atlantic Canadian patients.
- As the region’s first and only CAR-T therapy lab – and one of four in Canada – this BMO Ride funded lab will soon mark the first time that patients’ immune cells can be both modified and administered, right here at home.
- Saturday’s BMO Ride Celebration Festival included live entertainment by Dave Sampson, music, medals and podium moments, and an on-stage announcement unveiling total funds raised. The event also included a heartfelt moment recognizing late songwriter and music icon, Bruce Guthro, who had a courageous battle with cancer before his passing; participants and their families toasted to Bruce and all those in their lives who’ve they lost to this devastating disease.
- Since 2015, BMO Ride for Cancer has raised over $10.2 million net (and counting!) to transform cancer care, here at home, for Atlantic Canadians.
- BMO Ride for Cancer is laser-focused on continuing to build a centre of excellence in cancer care at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, equipping care teams with the most advanced equipment and technology available.
- To learn more about past areas of impact funded by our BMO Ride for Cancer community – including Atlantic Canada’s first surgical robotics technology for robotic cancer surgeries and world’s first EthosTM therapy system with HyperSight™ for radiation therapy – visit yourrideforcancer.ca/impact.
Though we faced an incredible challenge this year due to event route damages, our BMO Ride community persevered and demonstrated how they’re truly an unstoppable force. With a record-smashing $2,372,669 net raised – our most successful year ever – we are making Atlantic Canada’s first CAR-T therapy lab a reality. As we celebrate this transformational impact on cancer care at the QEII, we’re already looking ahead to the tenth annual BMO Ride for Cancer in 2024, where we’ll come back stronger than ever before.
– Catherine Campbell, volunteer chair of engagement, BMO Ride for Cancer.
When I started participating in BMO Ride for Cancer five years ago, I thought the event proceeds might one day impact someone I know or love; I never imagined that it would eventually be me. Last December at 41 years old, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. As a BMO Ride participant and current cancer patient at the QEII, I’ve seen firsthand the direct impact this event has on the treatments and cancer journeys of patients like me.
– Liz Sequeira, participant, BMO Ride for Cancer.
As host of BMO Ride for Cancer, the QEII Foundation is incredibly grateful to BMO, our event participants, donors, volunteers, sponsors, community partners and more who made Saturday, September 23 a monumental success. It’s not about the where or the how, it’s the why and this past week has demonstrated that BMO Ride for Cancer is so much more than a bike ride; it’s a movement for local cancer care that our community has fully embraced. With more than $10 million net raised since 2015, the impact of BMO Ride for Cancer is felt far and wide at Atlantic Canada’s largest and most specialized cancer centre, the QEII.
– Susan Mullin, President and CEO, QEII Foundation
For further information, event day photos and video b-roll, or to arrange interviews with BMO Ride spokespeople and local healthcare experts, please contact:
Director of Communications and Marketing, QEII Foundation
902 476 9798 or firstname.lastname@example.org