Pictured: Cara Beals (right) at the 2022 BMO Ride for Cancer. Cara, who passed away from neuroendocrine cancer in June 2023, was a longtime BMO Ride participant; her friends and loved ones now fundraise in her honour. Originally published via The Chronicle Herald and SaltWire.com.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, participants and volunteers will take part in the ninth annual BMO Ride for Cancer. This year’s event looks different than years past, as the cycling component was cancelled due to event route damages from the recent post-tropical storm. While participants will not physically ride in the event, an incredible, in-person celebration festival will take place – recognizing the fundraising efforts of individuals and teams who have rallied for local cancer care.

Since 2015, this dynamic event, hosted by the QEII Foundation, has raised more than $7.9 million net and counting for cancer-fighting technology, equipment and spaces at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. This year’s goal is to fully fund a state-of-the-art CAR-T therapy lab at the QEII, a first in Atlantic Canada.

CAR-T therapy is a revolutionary approach to cancer treatment. The immunotherapy involves genetically modifying a person’s immune cells (T-cells) to treat patients living with certain blood cancers who have not responded to any other treatment options. It’s a lifesaving advancement – providing hope and a potential cure for patients who would otherwise not survive.

With one in two Atlantic Canadians facing a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, it’s a cause that hits close to home for many BMO Ride for Cancer participants and supporters.

This year, Shelley Hire and Amy Stackhouse are gearing up as part of the newly formed team, Cara’s Crew, in memory of their friend and colleague, Cara Beals.

Shelley, Amy and Cara all worked together at the Nova Scotia Community College, where they formed long-time friendships.

“Cara and I were co-workers in the beginning and, you know, ended up being friends and then ended up being really good friends. And the rest is history. We met 24 years ago, and she was a big part of my life,” says Shelley.

They were planning to ride together as a workplace team, but after Cara’s passing, they decided to create a new team in her honour.


Pictured from left to right: Shelley, Cara and Amy.


“Last year, I watched Cara complete BMO Ride for Cancer and promised that I would complete the ride with her this year, and I plan to keep my promise,” says Shelley.

Cara was registered to ride in this year’s event alongside both her friends, but unfortunately, she lost her three-year battle with neuroendocrine cancer this year.

“Cara passed away on June 7, and to say I am heartbroken would be an understatement. She was an amazing woman who had a positive impact on everyone she met,” says Shelley. “I am proud to call her my friend and I miss her a lot.”

Cara was a long-time BMO Ride for Cancer participant, having ridden in the event for four years and personally fundraising over $5,300 to support other patients facing a cancer diagnosis.

Cara received her treatments and care at the QEII Cancer Centre, which is why this event was especially important to her.

Cara’s father had passed away from cancer, which had a big impact on her life and, according to Shelley, this sparked her initial participation in the annual event.

“I think for her, participating in BMO Ride for Cancer was her own way of helping people after she saw what her dad went through and was a way to honour him and feel close to him,” says Shelley. “And then, of course, being diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer made the event so much more personal to her.”

Last year, teammates, friends and family met Cara at the finish line as she completed her 25 km ride via trail despite actively undergoing her own cancer treatment – inspiring them with her fierce spirit, dedication and tenacity.

“Cara was fierce, humorous, intelligent, brave, and driven,” says Amy. “Whatever she set her mind to, she achieved – be it earning diplomas, volunteering, coaching, teaching, or even participating in this very fundraiser last year when I know it wasn’t easy for her.”

This year’s BMO Ride for Cancer will be a very important and emotional day for members of the Cara’s Crew team as they reflect and remember their dear friend and take part in an event and cause that meant so much to her.

“I think about Cara every day and BMO Ride day will be an experience for all of us to feel close to her and honour and remember everything she stood for: helping others,” says Shelley.

“This will be my first time participating in this event and while I wish it was alongside Cara, I know she’ll be with us in her own way,” she says.

BMO Ride for Cancer is so much more than a bike ride and Cara’s Crew is a prime example of that. There’s still time to support a BMO Ride for Cancer participant or team — like Cara’s Crew — and help make an impact on local care, here at home. Donate now at YourRideforCancer.ca or 902 334 1546.