Striking a blow in the fight against cancer can be as simple as strapping on a pair of skis and pointing them downhill.
And then doing it 21 more times.
The third annual Slopes for Hope fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society takes place at Hemlock Valley Resort on Sunday, Feb. 8.
The event is a great opportunity for Fraser Valley skiers and snowboarders to put together a team and enjoy the Family Day weekend, while doing their bit to help, said the Cancer Society’s Nicola Romaniuk.
Once again, Slopes for Hope participants are challenged to raise money — through pledges or lump sum donations — for the Canadian Cancer Society and then attempt to ski or board the vertical equivalent of Mount Everest (29,029 feet) — the world’s highest peak — in a single day. At Hemlock, that translates to 22 runs which, for the purposes of the challenge, can be completed by a single person or divided among teammates.
Last year, two skiers accomplished the feat individually, said Romaniuk.
Speed demons and snow plowers are equally welcome, because both the hill and the event are suitable for every level of skier and snowboarder, she said.
“You can challenge yourself if you want, or just get out and enjoy the day.”
Hemlock is one of five B.C. mountains hosting a Slopes for Hope fundraiser this year.
Locally, 45 people participated in last year’s event, raising $14,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society. This year’s goal is $15,000.
Money raised at Hemlock will stay in the Fraser Valley to help pay for programs, including the society’s volunteer driver program, and sending kids to Camp Goodtimes, Romaniuk explained.
The cost to send a single child to camp is $1,500, but through fundraisers such as Slopes for Hope, the experience can be offered at no charge to local families who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis or treatment.
“If we raise $15,000, that sends 10 kids to camp.”
Among those hitting the slopes on Feb. 8 will be Langley’s Stirling Noyes, a two-time cancer survivor who attended Camp Goodtimes every summer, from age seven to 16.
Although he has fond memories of his summers spent at camp, Noyes doesn’t recall much about his first go-round with cancer. He was just six years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
He does remember being sick and undergoing three years of chemotherapy, along with radiation treatment before he went into remission.
At 23, Noyes’s cancer returned. This time it was in his brain.
The graphic designer who lives in Walnut Grove was just minutes from getting into his vehicle and driving, he said, when he began feeling woozy — as though he was drunk.
“My wife said ‘sit down,’ and the next thing I knew, I was being loaded into an ambulance.”
He was admitted to Langley Memorial Hospital, and was alone in a washroom there when another seizure hit. This time he woke up at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.
After undergoing scans and an MRI, Noyes was diagnosed with type 3 astrocytoma — a brain tumour. It was aggressive, but hadn’t metastasized.
Because the tumour — likely the result of radiation therapy he underwent during his treatment for leukemia — had spread throughout a section of his brain, it couldn’t be removed surgically, said Noyes.
Another 18 months of oral chemotherapy (pills) followed.
Noyes, now 30, has been in remission for a little over three years — a measure of time that is “a big deal” in cancer treatment, he said. He continues to take anti-seizure medication.
This year marks the Langley man’s second time participating in Slopes for Hope.
On Feb. 8, he will ski as part of a team of five, which also includes his wife, brother, sister-in-law and a friend.
“It will be lots of fun. It’s a good day,” said Noyes. “It’s not hard. You raise $100, you ski for the day.”
In addition to participating in the event, he has also put together a DVD presentation which will be shown at the event, and is using social media to promote Slopes for Hope.
“I’m a big proponent of research. It’s very important that money goes to research and to Camp Goodtimes, to help kids in my situation and to find a cure,” said Noyes.
“Stirling is the epitome of a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer,” said Romaniuk.
“It’s volunteers like Stirling who make our organization what it is.”
A minimum contribution of $100 earns Slopes for Hope participants a lift pass to ski all day, with the first lift going up at 8 a.m.
Prizes will be awarded for top fundraisers, including a two-night stay at Hemlock’s Snowflake Resort.
Equipment is available for rent on the mountain and participants are encouraged to jazz up their gear with crazy costumes.
Registration is now open. To participate, make a donation or find more information, go to slopesforhope.ca.