For the third year, Langley’s David Nelson will be riding to conquer cancer.
And during this weekend’s ride, he’ll be missing someone he loves very much.
His brother Eric, the inspiration behind Team Pancho, died from colon cancer on April 7.
A Vancouver resident, Eric left behind a wife and two young children.
He was 46.
It was in support of his brother, two years his senior, that David got involved in B.C.’s Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2013.
“It was great riding with him,” David said, adding that the disease greatly affected Eric’s stamina last year. “He did fine. He normally, pre-cancer, would have been a tough-as-nails sort of guy but he had to be way more careful, to pace himself, but he got through it all right.”
An avid cyclist David is not, but last year and the year before he trained with, and rode alongside, Eric for the annual journey from Cloverdale to Seattle.
“I started riding for the Ride to Conquer Cancer,” David said.
Funds raised from the Aug. 29 and 30 Ride, presented by Silver Wheaton, benefits the BC Cancer Foundation.
The B.C. Ride has raised more than $59 million, to date.
The foundation’s mission to help reduce the incidence of cancer, reduce the mortality rate of cancer, and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer.
Team Pancho – started by Eric’s friend Todd Foxcroft and made up of his close friends and colleagues – is gearing up to take part in the trek that will cover roughly 220 kilometres this Saturday and Sunday.
Eric’s memory lives on through Team Pancho, “Pancho” being the nickname given to Eric, who showed up to a few parties wearing a Mexican poncho and “slinging tequila,” David related.
David misses his brother and hopes to help others who are living with cancer.
“I saw what cancer did to Eric and there are other people on the team who have loved ones who suffer from cancer,” he said.
Eric’s health took a turn for the worse around Christmas and three months later, cancer took his life.
“Every so often the chemo that he was taking would start to lose effectiveness, so he’d have to switch, but there are only so many lines of defence,” David said.
For the most part, cancer didn’t slow Eric down.
He continued to play hockey with David, even while enduring chemotherapy treatments.
“We definitely were buddies,” David said. “We had a group of friends, some of them are riding with Team Pancho, that have hung out for decades.”
And with the ride, chemotherapy caused the skin to shed on Eric’s palms and the soles of his feet.
David said, “that’s a problem when you’re riding and standing on your feet for a few hours a day.”
He added that his brother “never complained during his chemo and various health challenges, of which his palms and soles were just one. He kept working, playing hockey, travelling, and just living life for as long as he could.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, David said the ride is “certainly doable for anyone who does a bit of training, but it is a challenge as well, which for me is part of the attraction. It’s an accomplishment to get it done.”
The ride starts from the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, with the opening ceremony kicking off at 7 a.m Saturday.
After an overnight stay in Mt. Vernon, the riders continue on to Seattle Sunday.
The predicted weekend rainfall isn’t going to slow down Team Pancho.
“You go no matter what,” David said, adding, “We are riding in Eric’s memory and to stand with and help those who are still facing this terrible disease.”
To donate to David and Team Pancho, click here.
The team’s goal is to raise $17,000 for the cause.