Carl Oleinyk – Tour of Hope Ride Leader
Carl Oleinyk is an exceptional cyclist, musician and artist with a HUGE heart and a passion to support children with cancer and their families. He has been the Tour of Hope ride leader for three years which includes researching and planning the route for all level of participants to enjoy. We caught up to Carl this week as he is striving to complete his 800KM Tour at Home, to ask him a few questions:
How long have you cycled in the Tour of Hope? I started riding the Tour of Hope in 2010. I’ve done every ride since except one. This year’s ride is my tenth year.
This is a very EPIC ride, what keeps you coming back every year?
Oh there are so many reasons!
First: The Kids. As an organizer, I’ve been to the KWCS house many times. It’s great to see how hard the people work to help kids with cancer and their families. It’s also disheartening to see backpacks lined up in the hallway for the newly-diagnosed children. This tour is the least I can do for them. They are my heroes.
Second: Meeting the kids. KWCS does a wonderful job of bringing the real story of a child’s battle with cancer. I especially enjoy the evening when one of the kids and their family join us for dinner and an evening during the tour. Some of these children deal with so much but they handle it so well. We get a direct glimpse into their lives and many times the room is filled with smiles and tears. In 2013, my sponsor child Sarah (and also her brother Eric) and her family were the hosts for dinner in Lake Louise. Sarah and Eric were so helpful the next morning grabbing my bike for me and making me laugh while the rain was coming down. They drove by while I was climbing the Bow Summit and honked and waved. It was a hard rain and wind that even washed out the Banff-Jasper highway. We were drenched, cold and tired at the end of the ride. Everyone said it was one of the worst days for cycling. For me, it is the highlight of all the tour.
Third: The Riders. Everyone I’ve met on these tours is a giving and empathetic person. I would do anything for each and every one of them. I can honestly say I’ve made lifelong friends. People I spend time with when the Tour has ended, travelled with and shared many good times. Joining this tour is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Last: The Support. KWCS does an incredible job of supporting the riders during the Tour. From fixing flats and chains, to ensuring our gear is brought to the next stop, to providing delicious nutrition and hydration on the road. All the support crew are aware of the route and the behaviour of cyclists. They always cheer us on at every moment. We’ve been treated to some fabulous dinners at great restaurants who often put on a special menu or even close their doors so we can dine exclusively. We’re treated like royalty and I can’t say how much we appreciate their every effort.
What does it mean to you to know with every pedal, you are helping children in our community who are battling cancer?
We were half way through one tour climbing up a steep hill near the end of the stage. Jake (who’s daughter Mackenzie was battling cancer and utilizing the KWCS services) was struggling. Alex executed his signature move – the human escalator. He put a hand on Jake’s lower back and helped push him up the hill as they rode. Alex said, “This is not pain. The kids know real pain.” Jake immediately picked up the pace and we flew up the hill together. I could pedal all day for these kids no matter the hills or weather or road conditions. We all should help in whatever way we can. And the Tour of Hope is my way of helping children in need and the Kids with Cancer Society. This got a little long but I could add so much more!