Haylee Seiter keeps a photo of her grandfather taped to her bicycle.
It’s a reminder of why she is a member the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North.
“I’m riding in honour of my grandfather,” she says. “He’s one of the people in my life that I’ve lost to cancer. He had stomach cancer and we lost him in 2014. I think him when I ride, but I also think of everyone in my community who has been touched by cancer.”
Seiter is one of the youngest members of the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North team, which is gearing up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in the Lower Mainland this summer.
This year be Seiter’s third on the ever-growing team. She has been passionate about health promotion since she was in high school and for years volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society for various health promotion and awareness initiatives such as the Tanning Is Out campaign and Relay for Life. She recently graduated from UNBC where she was valedictorian of her class. She now works at Northern Health.
It was after the death of her grandfather, Ben Seiter, that she got involved with the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North and as much as raising money to fight cancer is important, it’s the people who have made the involvement worthwhile.
“We’re really a community,” she says. “I joined as a complete stranger and it was awesome because they welcomed me with open arms. Everyone incorporates wellness in their lives and everyone is an awesome fundraiser.”
Seiter wasn’t a stranger to cycling before she joined, but she wasn’t an avid rider either.
“I hadn’t considered cycling as a sport before I joined,” she says. “There’s some really fit people out there who are hard-core cyclists, but the thing I love about this group is you can be any fitness level and you can join. The whole point of the ride is that it’s a ride, not a race … You can push yourself if you want, but you can also just enjoy yourself.
She had always been involved from health promotions, so it was a fit in that respect. But there another draw.
“It was a challenge and I’m a competitive person,” she says. “The fundraising was the part that scared me the most, not the 250 kilometre ride.”
Her target is to raise $2,500 and she’s raised about $500 so far. However, that got a boost earlier this week when the Brink Group of Companies picked her as one of 10 local athletes it is sponsoring this year.
“I’m so thankful,” she says of the $500 sponsorship from the Brink Group. “It just speaks to the community of Prince George and some of the generous individuals and corporations. This really helps.”
Sponsoring Seiter was a natural fit for the Brink Group, which looks to sponsor local athletes who are excelling.
“Haylee has done a fantastic job with fundraising, she is obviously a fabulous biker,” said John Brink. “The cause is so important because the ride is becoming more popular and a lot of athletes like Haylee are riding in it, but the driving point behind it is raising money for cancer awareness. It gives us exposure to how many of these fabulous individuals like Haylee we have and who are such great examples to other people. To us it’s a privilege to support Haylee.”
Wheelin’ Warriors of the North was founded in October 2012. That year, what started off as a team of one, then three, eventually became a team of 33 for its inaugural ride in 2013. Since that founding year, the team has grown to include over 125 cyclists and crew members that have raised over $720,000 for The British Columbia Ride to Conquer Cancer.
And it’s not too late to get involved if you would like to help out and maybe go for a long bike ride this August.
If you would like to get involved, check their Facebook page.