HUMBOLDT — The past and present collided in Humboldt with the launch of the Prairie Women on Snowmobiles’ 2020 mission.
This is the 20th ride of the cancer-based fundraiser with nine riders from across the province travelling 1,400 kilometres around Saskatchewan for breast cancer research and cancer clinic needs.
To celebrate 20 years of riding for a cure, women from the previous 19 rides gathered with current riders to celebrate with a banquet on Feb. 1 at the Bella Vista.
It is not an easy task travelling around the province by snowmobile, said Kelly Kim Rea, president of Prairie Women on Snowmobiles, but it was something that Mission 2020 riders Elma Fischer and Alison Taylor wanted to do.
As a nurse for the past 40 years, Fischer has seen the progress that cancer research has made up close, especially in cancer treatments.
“I’m very passionate about those advances that we make, even though they seem slow sometimes but we’ve made a huge difference.”
Fischer and her family, like most in Saskatchewan, have been touched by cancer and she wants to give hope to those battling the disease in all its forms.
This is Fischer’s third year as a core rider with Prairie Women and meeting the people along the way has always been a highlight, she said.
“When you talk to the individuals that we meet along the way, you realize what an incredible opportunity you have to make a difference.”
Taylor’s mom and dad both succumb to cancer, and she wants to see her five daughters live in a world that is cancer-free. Riding with Prairie Women on Snowmobiles is her way of making that dream a reality.
“If I can help in any way to find a cure, then that’s what I want to do. There’s a lot of cancer in my family.”
Rea said that the pain of travelling across the province on snowmobile pales in comparison to what a cancer patient endures as they battle different forms of cancer but these 10 strangers come together and get through it.
“The fact that these women are willing to come together and go through that pain and that emotional rollercoaster ride for six days and they come away going ‘that was tough’ but that not even close to what someone going through their cancer journey is dealing with. It just slams it home.”
Twenty years of fundraiser has meant a lot of money towards breast cancer research.
Aurora Marinari, annual giving co-ordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society in Regina, said Prairie Women have raised $2.5 million and survival rates have improved drastically in the last 20 years because of these funds going to research and equipment, she said.
“They’ve done a lot in 20 years and I hope they continue to grow and do more. They’re an inspiring group of women.”
Since 2015, donors have also had a choice in donating to the Canadian Cancer Society or the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan. Money raised over the last six years for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency through the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan has meant money towards patient care and comfort as they go through their cancer journey, said Nora Yeates, CEO of the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan. This has included equipment and comfort items for cancer centres in both Regina and Saskatoon.
Half of the $367,000 raised for the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan has also gone towards funding a new mobile mammography bus to replace the nearly 20-year-old one that currently travels around rural Saskatchewan providing breast cancer screening closer to home.
Over 9,000 mammograms are done on that bus, Yeates said.
Saskatchewan artist Glen Scrimshaw, was also in attendance at the Humboldt banquet to unveil his new painting to honour 20 years of Prairie Women on Snowmobiles. ‘Mission of Hope,’ a beautiful sunset piece is part two of what is going to be a three-part series. Scrimshaw released ‘Trail of Hope,’ a northern lights inspired piece, in honour of Prairie Women in 2009, and in 2025, he will complete the three-set collection with a moonlight inspired print to honour 25 years of cancer fundraising through Prairie Women.
A percentage of print sales goes directly to Prairie Women on Snowmobiles and Scrimshaw said print sales has raised several thousand dollars over the past 10 years.
Mission 2020 kicked off on Feb. 2 with riders going from Humboldt to Star City with stops in Bruno and Prud'homme. It will be a gruelling seven days of snowmobiling before coming to an end in Martensville on Feb. 7 via communities like Wynyard, Moose Jaw and Outlook.