Every year Langley resident Art Forster’s summer culminates with an annual two-day, 200-kilometre ride from Fort Langley to Cultus Lake and back.
It’s a September event he trains for all summer long and it’s called the BC Lung Association’s annual Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath (Trek).
This year will be Forster and his Trek Care at Home teammates’ sixth year taking part – each united in their commitment to helping the BC Lung Association raise public attention and support for lung disease research, advocacy and education.
To date they’ve raised nearly $40,000 in support of the cause.
Initiated by a small group of cyclists and committed lung health advocates long before charity bike ride fundraisers became widespread, the weekend ride attracts a loyal following of some 200 to 300 trekkers year in and year out.
“We’re very grateful to Art and his teammates for their generous support – and for the support of all our Trekkers who together have raised more than seven million dollars in support of the cause since the event began some 35 years ago,” said Marissa McFadyen, BC Lung Association organizer.
“When I tell people I’m doing a ride to help fight lung disease, I often find they think it’s a ride for lung cancer but the burden of lung disease is much broader – respiratory problems affect a lot more people than many think,” said Forster, owner of B.C.-based Care at Home Services and independent, assisted living and long-term care facilities with ProVita Care Management.
“I am in the business of keeping seniors at home and providing whatever home healthcare services they might need. As it turns out, many of our clients suffer from chronic breathing problems. Life can get pretty tough when you’re constantly out of breath and unable to do simple chores,” continued Forster.
“It’s important to me that we support the BC Lung Association, and the important work they do – and, as someone who loves to ride, and has participated in lot of different charity rides over the years, I also think Trek is the best cycling event out there. The staff truly go the extra mile,” he added.
According to the lung association, one in five British Columbians are affected by a lung or breathing condition.
The most common in B.C. is asthma, affecting as much as 10 per cent of children and adults.
Next is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary – the fourth leading cause of death – which affects another six per cent of people aged 45 or older, and following COPD is sleep apnea, or sleep-disordered breathing, affecting another two to four percent of adult men and women, McFadyen said.
Add to that the tens of thousands of British Columbians diagnosed every year with lung cancer, afflicted by a fatal condition of the lungs called pulmonary fibrosis, or born with a life-shortening genetic condition called cystic fibrosis. While treatment exists to control and slow down the progression of these conditions, none are currently curable.
Finally consider the tens of thousands impacted every year by airborne infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia or worse – the increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacterial killer tuberculosis, McFadyen noted.
“It is thanks to advances in lung and infectious disease research, immunization efforts, and accessible healthcare such diseases remain well controlled in Canada – at least for the time being. And our fundraisers and donors are helping ensure it stays that way,” she said.
To participate, participants are each required to pay a $25 registration fee and commit to fundraising a minimum of $650 in donations.
In return, the BC Lung Association delivers a fully-supported weekend cycling experience including all meals, lakeside accommodation, gear transport, medical and mechanical support, evening and afternoon entertainment, and even a commemorative Trek 2019 t-shirt.
The trek is set for Sept. 7 and 8.
Last September organizers welcomed trekkers ranging in age from 18 to 77 years old.
To learn more and register, visit bicycletrek.ca. Questions? Email email@example.com or call the events team at the BC Lung Association toll-free at 1-800-665-5864.
To make a donation in support of Forster or his Trek Team, people can visit bicycletrek.ca, click donate and search Art or his team by name.
All proceeds from the event continue to fund research, education and advocacy programs in support of the one in five affected by lung disease.