Cross-province cyclist warmly welcomed at every stop

Cory Hurley
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She’s gaining ground on her $30-K fundraising goal

Maike Van Niekerk is enjoying Newfoundland hospitality as she rides across the province.

Maike Van Niekerk is not fazed by her long journey to raise money for people who need to travel for cancer treatment. — Photo by Candice Cunning

The 19-year-old nursing student from Massey Drive is cycling from St. Anthony to St. John’s to raise money and awareness of the high costs of travelling to receive cancer treatment in the province.

The Dalhousie University students started her Northern Peninsula trek last week and was in Corner Brook on Aug. 6 for a rare day of rest.

She has raised more than $27,000 of her $30,000 target for Katrin’s Karepackage, an organization she started to honour her the memory of her mother, who died of breast cancer three years ago. She said she is amazed by people’s generosity.

Van Niekerk said her lofty goal once seemed insurmountable, but the project soon gained momentum. Corporate donations were rolling in and she had more than $26,000 before she strapped on her helmet in St. Anthony on July 31.

She said people’s generosity reflects the fact that everyone is affected by cancer, but she suspects there’s more to it than that.

“Newfoundlanders just care so much about their fellow citizens of Newfoundland that they are willing to donate to those people, even if they don’t know them,” she said.

She pre-arranged her accommodations, and hotel and bed and breakfast owners are opening their doors free of charge. In some smaller communities, homeowners have invited her in.

Van Niekerk said some people in  communities did the networking for her. She had visitors awaiting her arrival in some places and  small fundraisers were held for the cause.

Along the route, drivers have been giving her the courtesy honk, but she has also been stopped by passing motorists who give her encouragement and inspiration. She met one family returning from St. John’s, where both their son and daughter were receiving radiation treatments.

An active and healthy person, Van Niekerk endorses the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in the prevention of cancer.

With the northerly winds of St. Anthony and the tough climbs through Gros Morne at her back, she is heading east for the remaining 700 kilometres. She expects to reach St. John’s on Wednesday.

Donations she receives will help offset the travel costs of cancer patients and their families who have to travel to St. John’s for radiation treatment. The project won her the Start Something with Alesse contest online in the “start inspiring, non-profit” category.


The Western Star



Maike’s Telegram blog:

Organizations: Dalhousie University

Geographic location: St. Anthony, Corner Brook, Newfoundland

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