Pictured: BMO Ride for Cancer participants and community leaders, Scott McCain (left) and Leslie McLean (right), are matching all donations to the event on Thursday, Sept. 7, up to $500,000. Photo credit: Uncharted. Article originally published via SaltWire.com


Author: Jennifer Gouchie-Terris, SaltWire                 Date: Thursday, September 7


Scott McCain and Leslie McLean were already registered for this year’s BMO Ride for Cancer; but when they discovered proceeds from the 2023 event will fully fund Atlantic Canada’s first ever CAR-T therapy lab at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, they stepped up in a big way by matching all donations made today (Sept. 7) up to $500,000.

The goal of raising $1-million in just one day makes it the biggest-ever, one-day match in the history of the event, with a call on the community to rise to this historic challenge.

As one of only four labs in Canada, the QEII’s CAR-T therapy lab will mark the first time that patients’ immune cells can be modified here in Atlantic Canada, as opposed to shipping these cells to the United States and back, for them to be available for a patient’s CAR-T therapy treatment. This immunotherapy is a final lifeline and potential cure for certain blood cancer patients who have exhausted all other forms of treatment, making a local lab a life-saving advancement.

Scott and Leslie are originally from the Maritimes and are both incredibly passionate about ensuring this innovative treatment option is available to all Atlantic Canadians.

“It’s a game-changer for cancer patients and families in our region,” says Scott.

Supporting the CAR-T therapy lab is particularly important to Leslie, who at one time worked as a nurse at the QEII (VG Hospital) in the areas of oncology, hematology, and bone marrow and stem cell transplant.

“Funding the region’s first CAR-T therapy lab opens the door for fueling future research and clinical trials which could potentially expand the use of this for other aggressive types of cancer,” says Leslie. “So, we’re excited about that and with future innovations could one day introduce it into the treatment plan even earlier for some patients. It literally saves lives.”

The potential it has as a therapy and the impact it will have on the future was definitely a catalyst in the couple’s decision to provide a one-day $500,000 matching gift. As riders and Maritimers, they’re incredibly proud and honoured to match, dollar-for-dollar, every donation made today and are hopeful their fellow participants and the broader community will unlock the full $500,000 available.

According to Scott, they view it as an opportunity to not only give back and help change people’s lives, but to support what they firmly believe is a “new and highly-effective way of fighting cancer.”

He encourages others to reach out to their networks and give what they can today (Sept. 7).

ONE PARTICIPANT’S RIDE BECOMES DEEPLY PERSONAL

When Liz Sequeria first became involved with BMO Ride for Cancer five years ago, she never imagined she would begin her own cancer journey just a few years later. Being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in December 2022 while in her early 40’s, came as a huge shock to the Halifax resident whose team, Cyclesmith Cancer Crusaders, has now become one of the top fundraisers in the event.

Despite having recently completed three cycles of chemotherapy and 25 rounds of radiotherapy at the QEII, Liz, her husband and three children along with a few close friends are participating in the event this year.

“We started it five years ago and we just thought it was a great cause because we all know someone who has been touched by cancer,” explains Liz. “All funds raised stay here for our own hospital, the QEII Cancer Centre, so the impact is super tangible.”

The family’s love and enthusiasm for the annual event has continued to grow over the years as has the amount of money they have raised. In fact, Cyclesmith Cancer Crusaders has already raised over $14,000 so far this year which is a new five-year record for the team of 10.

“We’ve always reached our goal and have gone over a bit, but never by this much,” Liz excitedly admits.

The final part of Liz’s cancer journey will follow within the next few weeks when she undergoes surgery. It’s been a tough year, yet she remains optimistic and an inspiration to both strangers and all who know her.

“As a young person who thought it could never happen to me, I’m still out there fundraising and riding,” she says. “Now more than ever, because so many people are being diagnosed with cancer, we need the funds. We need money raised to help purchase new technology and equipment for our own cancer care hospital and that’s what’s so great about BMO Ride for Cancer — you know all the funds raised will potentially benefit you or someone you love. I’m proof of that.”

THE BIGGEST ONE-DAY MATCH IN BMO RIDE HISTORY

Liz has received “phenomenal care” at the QEII which she, at least in part, directly attributes to the funds raised by the QEII Foundation’s signature event. With over $7.9 million net raised by BMO Ride for Cancer since its inception in 2015, participants and donors — like Liz, Scott and Leslie — are impacting nearly every patient who undergoes cancer treatment at the QEII.

As both a rider and current cancer patient, Liz says it’s a prime example of why everyone in our region should support a BMO Ride participant in their life.

“I feel like I do have a fighting chance to beat this because of the excellent care I have received – and BMO Ride has been a big part of that,” she says. “If we can reach this full match of $500,000, we can make a $1-million impact in one day and that would be amazing for all cancer patients and their families.”

Today only, Sept. 7, all donations to BMO Ride for Cancer are being matched by Scott McCain and Leslie McLean, up to $500,000. Double your impact now by making a general donation or supporting a BMO Ride participant at YourRideForCancer.ca or 902 334 1546.

Pictured: Cancer patient and rider, Liz Sequeira (right), with two of her three children, Jonah (left) and Madelyn (middle).

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