Four Saanich teenagers are about to complete a shared journey that goes far beyond the 200 kilometres between Vancouver and Seattle. The teens will take part in the upcoming Ride to Conquer Cancer that starts Aug. 26 in suburban Vancouver and finishes in Seattle the next day.
While the four teenagers speak in the characteristic style of their age group, their words and action reveal a maturity that goes beyond their age.
“I have always been aware of cancer and the all facts about it,” said Fedrigo in mid-April, when the quartet first meet with the Saanich News. “So it is not much how much this ride has changed me. It is how I took my beliefs and found a good match and went for it to support what I believe in.”
The four teenagers have known each other for years, playing sports together and participating in different kinds of volunteer events. But this ride also appears to mark an evolution in their friendship as they have shared their respective stories about how cancer has impacted their respective family members.
Hughes, for example, is riding for his late uncle. “My uncle was diagnosed with liver cancer in October  and he died two months later,” he said.
“It unifies us as a team,” said Bennett, drawing approving nods from his friends.
In fact, it was family that inspired the foursome to participate in the ride.
“It was my mom’s idea,” said Boutin. “She did the [ride] and she kind of asked me if I wanted to do it if I was old enough. Then we kind of got the idea to bring my friends into it.”
Hughes’ father had also participated several times. “He’d be like, ‘Chris, do you want to do it?’” said Hughes, adding that he was initially reluctant. “But then Bennett emailed us and that pushed me to do it,” he said.
While Bennett’s mother, Hughes’ father and Fedrigo’s father will join the foursome, the experience has brought the four closer as they are raising funds and training for the 200-kilometre ride, an experience that has helped them push past old boundaries in their training.
“I haven’t really done many things like this before,” said Brewster. “But we have gone for numerous training rides close to 100 kilometres.”
The upcoming ride will be the ninth edition of the ride, which so far has raised $77 million for the B.C. Cancer Foundation, with almost 1,700 riders participating last year.
While fundraising was initially slow, Team Coltman has already met and exceeded its fundraising goal of $2,500 each. But if this achievement speaks to the practical side of the enterprise, it has also broadened their perspective about themselves and their family members.
“Life is precious,” said Hughes.