Skiing to new heights for cancer
By James Pugsley
Although six Western skiers decided to conquer Mount Washington in New Hampshire on Saturday, the group is concentrating on overcoming a much more difficult obstacle the fight against cancer.
For years the Appalachian Mountains have attracted a number of Western students who crave extreme downhill skiing. However, when a member of the ski-pack was diagnosed with cancer in 1993 and could not attend the trip, the fun-filled adventure immediately adopted a serious and determined tone the following year one geared toward the drive to aid cancer research.
Tuckerman's Ravine, a dangerously steep vertical bowl found atop Mount Washington, has been the most alluring site for Sean Duffy, a fourth-year kinesiology student from Waterloo. He, along with his older brother Ryan, has led the expedition and helped co-ordinate a number of cancer research fundraisers over the past few years.
Those involved with the trip, like third-year biology student Craig McWilliam, find Tuckerman's Ravine to be an irresistible adventure.
"[The trip] is a really good experience and it has raised a lot of money for an excellent cause," McWilliam said.
The annual March trip labeled "Going to the extreme for cancer," is a part of a fund-raising campaign which begins in January and lasts until April. During that time, money raised from pub nights, selling T-shirts and from local corporate sponsors is donated for research to the London Regional Cancer Centre. Last year the extreme crew raised over $2,000 elevating the total amount of money raised to more than $6,000.
Dr. Leslie Levin, chief executive officer at the LRCC, believes the motivation of these students to raise money for cancer research is an inspirational achievement.
"Anyone who helps to further the quest to finding a cure for cancer needs to be applauded," he said. "We have to find out ways cancer is caused and initiatives such as this should be greatly praised for their actions."
This year the skiers, who paid their own way to New Hampshire despite generating money for their cause, have raised more than $1,000 with one month still to go.
Duffy hasn't forgotten why he and the entire group have sacrificed their time each year. "Everyone knows the individual [with cancer] and he's a big motivation to us," he said.
Since being diagnosed with cancer in 1993, the student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has undergone chemotherapy and is currently in remission, having effectively been treated for the disease. Although he is nearing his final chapter as a Western student, his story is something Duffy hopes will inspire the event in the future, even after they have all moved on.
"I would like to see [the expedition] go as long as it can," Duffy said. "My younger brother Kevin is coming to Western next year and he came on the trip with us on Saturday. Hopefully he will continue it."