Editor's note: Gibsons resident and volunteer firefighter James Ingram is actively fundraising and raising awareness for the Whistler Granfondo bicycle race on Sept. 11 in support of the B.C. Lung Association. He has written the following to explain to the community his reasons for taking on this challenge.
My cousin, Louisa, suffers from cystic fibrosis. More than 30 years ago she underwent a heart and lung transplant and is still alive today. On a sad note, my father-in-law, Len Doyle, succumbed to lung cancer a few years ago after a strong fight.
When I started as a new recruit this year with the Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department, I learned about the Stair Climb for Clean Air fundraising event at the Sheraton Wall Centre for the B.C. Lung Association.
In just a few weeks, I managed to raise $1,000 by using newspaper and Internet marketing to drive donations. Friends, family members and total strangers heard about my climb and donated to help me reach my goal. I completed the climb of 48 storeys wearing firefighter turnout gear in 12 minutes and 36 seconds.
Several weeks after the climb, I received an invitation from the Lung Association to join their 'super team' as part of the inaugural Whistler Granfondo bicycle race on Sept. 11. The race is from Vancouver to Whistler with 120 km of riding, including 2,400m of climbing and 1,750m of downhill. After wrestling with the fact that I did not even own a bicycle, I decided to register for the historic event. I realized that such an exciting race would capture everyone's imagination and thought that instead of simply asking people for donations, I could offer them something in exchange.
The idea to hold a fundraising breakfast to rally people together seemed to be a good fit, so I asked Stafford Lumley of Smitty's Oyster House if he would be interested in the idea, and he was.
On Saturday, July 17, we raised $1,200 at the fundraiser.
I hope that riding to Whistler on Sept. 11 will be as positive an experience as the fundraising breakfast. I thank the community for their support and encouragement.