Saanich residents ride to conquer cancer

Loss of friends, family inspire participants to raise money for weekend cycling event from Vancouver to Seattle

Brian Spier

Brian Spier

Brian Spier had spent very little time on a bike before signing up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. It was the sudden death of a friend and neighbour – Rey Namoko, a young father – that inspired the Saanich resident to take on a 250-kilometre cycling challenge to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation.

“Rey was the first time in my life someone that I saw on a regular basis had died of cancer,” said Spier, 44. “Our sons are almost the same age, they play together all the time. I can’t imagine my kid growing up without me.

“I know people get cancer all the time, but when you’re in your mid-30s and he didn’t do anything to bring it on, it’s just rotten luck.”

Namoko was initially diagnosed with stomach cancer a couple years ago. He underwent surgery and treatment, and was given a clean bill of health last year. But just a few months later he started to have back pain, which was chalked up to him having been off work and off his feet for a while.

“In early January his wife took him to emergency because of the pain and they were like, ‘You have bone cancer. You’ve probably only got a week to live,” said Spier, a BC Transit driver.

Namoko held on another three weeks, but lost his battle to cancer in January.

Around the same time, Spier spotted an ad online for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a popular two-day cycling event from Vancouver to Seattle to raise money for cancer research. Despite not being a cyclist, Spier was motivated to sign up.

“I can’t fork out a $3,000 cheque and help fight this (disease). I’m doing this to get more exposure. I know what I’m doing is only a drop in the bucket, but if everybody throws a drop in, that bucket’s pretty full soon,” Spier said.

While he’s behind the wheel of a bus getting to know the roads most days, Spier’s off time is spent training solo for the ride.

Down 14 pounds since he started, he says he’s “as ready as I’m going to be” for this weekend’s ride. He’s just thankful he has the health to do something like this to benefit others.

He’s also thankful for the outpouring of support he’s received from his co-workers, friends and family members.

“We’re all pretty inspired here by his story,” said Meribeth Burton, spokeswoman for BC Transit. “We can all relate to how sudden and tragic cancer can be. But Brian’s story, his commitment, his dedication; we’ve all been touched by what he’s doing.”

More than 2,500 riders are expected to take part in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Last year 2,642 riders raised $10.4 million. The Ride has raised more than $50 million in the last five years.

To support a rider, visit conquercancer.ca.

editor@saanichnews.com

••••

Team Xav

Spier is not the only Saanich resident participating in the event.

More than 160 people from Greater Victoria are registered to ride, including Annette Halsted. Her son, Xavier Pelletier, died while on the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year, when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

Pelletier was 16, and was a much-loved athlete at Pacific Christian School.

On Tuesday, the Saanich school hosted a barbecue to celebrate the life of Xavier Pelletier and to raise money for Halsted and Team Xav.

The school raised $500 for Team Xav.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A family of ducks that lives near Saanich Municipal Hall recently welcomed 11 ducklings and took them for a swim in the koi pond outside the offices. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Pair of ducks make Saanich Municipal Hall a nursery for 11 hatchlings

Family of ducks spent time in koi pond before heading down to Swan Lake

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Central Saanich park among sites for local Garry oak restoration projects

Habitat Acquisition Trust received $140,000 in funding for 12 projects

Architect’s rendering of the 7 Erskine Lane development, showing the view from the east and south. (VDA Architecture Ltd. image)
View Royal green-lights residential development on Erskine Lane

First of two developments near Victoria General Hospital will provide 71 housing units

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Most Read