BY BILL PHILLIPS
For many families, the children follow in the footsteps of their parents.
Not so for the Seiter family.
Haylee Seiter joined the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North four years ago. She was followed the next year by her mother Tracy and this year, by her father Dan.
Now Team Seiter is a force to be reckoned with as the Wheelin’ Warriors start training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in August, which involves cycling 250 kilometres from Vancouver to Hope over two days.
“I joined this to meet new people,” says Haylee of why she got involved with the group of local cyclists who have raised more than $700,000 for cancer research.
She met team co-captain Ron Gallo at a spin class, where cyclists train on stationary bikes, and he convinced her that if she liked training on a stationary bike, she would also like training on a real bike.
“I went out to a meet and greet and the rest is history,” she says.
The next year Haylee got Tracy to sign up for the Wheelin’ Warriors.
“She convinced me to become part of this quirky little group,” says Tracy. “I think the first part of it was the people that inspired (both of us) to join. Then there was the physical aspect of it, the training for the ride.”
The coup de grace, however, and what drew Dan into the team, was the event itself … the actual ride with hundreds of other cyclists and cancer survivors. In addition, it was a very personal choice to join.
“My wife started doing it and I’d lost my father to cancer so I didn’t have the energy at the time to do it,” he says. “Just to listen to some of the stories about where cancer research has come from even just 10 years ago, is incredible. Anyone who went to that event and listen to these people talk, people who had lost their kids … you have no soul if you don’t decide to join up after that. It was very heartfelt and compassionate.”
Dan has always donated through his businesses, but decided to jump into fray and actually ride.
“As the Wheelin’ Warriors we all nurture ourselves and push ourselves to do our best,” says Tracy. “But the best part is the ride itself because it makes you realize why we do this event. It’s so inspiring to listen to testimonials and personal stories and I don’t think there’s a dry eye in the place. It’s just a wonderful feeling to be there and be part of this big movement.”
Participants in the ride who are either had cancer or are still dealing with it are given yellow flags for their bikes, so it can be inspiring and emotional to see them ride.
“I don’t think I could stop now,” says Tracy.
It is 250 kilometres over two days, so it’s not an easy ride. However, the Wheelin’ Warriors have already started training by holding spin classes at the YMCA of Northern BC and as soon as the snow is off the ground, will be riding outdoors.
“You definitely have to train for it,” says Haylee.
Each rider also has to raise at least $2,500 and all the funds go to cancer research, and that can be challenging.
“When I first started it was the fundraising that intimidated me more than the kilometres you have to do,” says Haylee, who was a student when she first starting riding with the Wheelin’ Warriors.
The Seiter’s participate in group fundraising events with the Wheelin’ Warriors, which counts toward individual totals as well, but also have a few fundraising events of their own.
Both Haylee and Tracy have had Cup of Soup for Cancer days where they each work, bringing in a pot of soup and selling bowls to raise funds. They’ve also done a fundraiser involving selling hanging plants where the proceeds count towards their fundraising total.
“The other big one that we got involved with is the dinner and dance that we do every year,” says Haylee. “The Free Wheelin’ Gala is held in April.”
It will be held in the Hart Community Centre and involves a dinner, dance, and a silent auction. It is one of the Wheelin’ Warriors’ biggest fundraisers.
The family owns a liquor store in the College Harts, and donates baskets for the silent auction. The Seiter family will also be holding a private event involving Smithers artist Mark Tworrow.
“We’re going to be selling his art and featuring a local artist as well,” says Tracy. “He’s amazingly talented.”
The show will be held in the Seiter’s house and portion of the proceeds will go to the Wheelin’ Warriors.
If anyone is thinking about whether the Wheelin’ Warriors is for them, Dan encourages them to try it.
“Just come out to an event,” Dan says. “It’s really a good group of people, quirky but lots of fun.”
The ride is very much worth it.
“There’s nothing that compares to that first ride,” says Haylee. “That first time you cross that finish line. It’s pretty amazing. Just knowing that you’ve achieved a goal like that.”
Plus, there is the added benefit of becoming more physically active.
“That’s one of the reason I ride, to try and be a role model for healthier living, to try and inspire people to live a healthier life,” says Haylee. “That’s a big thing that prevents cancer.”