From Rejection to Motivation to Accomplishment: The Healing Cycle Foundation for Hospice Palliative Care

Categories: Care.
Nine years ago Jean-Paul Tesolin phoned Heather Campbell and suggested she join a new cycling event to raise money for palliative care. Heather didn’t know much about palliative care and realized that if others didn’t know what it was, or were unwilling to talk openly about it, they certainly wouldn’t raise money to support it. 
This realization soon became crystal clear. While fundraising cyclists posed for a promotional picture, a passerby asked what they were doing. They explained, “We’re raising money for palliative care to improve the quality of life for patients facing life-threatening illness and their families.” 
The passerby asked, “Why would you raise money for dying people?” 
Ouch! This was precisely why they needed to raise awareness and funds. The answer was simple and as true now as it was then: the cycling fundraisers believe the final stage of life is no less important than the beginning.
The group quickly discovered their cause won no popularity contests when it came to raising funds. The hope and optimism that accompanies curing a disease win out over the reality that people die, period. The cyclists explained to anyone who would listen that spiritual hope and healing in palliative care are equally important. 
The subject wasn’t popular with cyclists either. When the group hadn’t managed to register a sufficient number of cyclists, the hospital made a business decision to cancel the ride. The rejection came as a crushing blow to each rider’s heart-felt eagerness to help people live their final days in comfort and dignity. JP and Heather had to do something; they couldn’t stand inaction and didn’t want to give up on their dream. So the two made their own business decision.
Summer was quickly approaching, and JP and Heather created a new ride. With only three months to put the event together from scratch, it wasn’t the smartest tactical decision they’d ever made. The ride had no name and no website. It was possible they wouldn’t have enough time to put all the details together or be able to pay expenses. They only had each other to use as a sounding board. 
Determined to succeed, they brought their skills together: JP knew everything about bikes and how to sell the ride, and Heather knew how to organize and get things done. With seed money from JP’s bike store and their determination intact, the two begged and cajoled until people cycled or volunteered. 
On the beautiful, sunny day of the inaugural 2005 ride, 27 cyclists crossed a make-shift finish line after riding 100 km. While the $27,000 raised that day wasn’t earth-shattering, Heather saw the potential that the hospital failed to recognize. She knew what they had accomplished, and her goose-bumps told her she’d found her calling.
Rejection led our two founding cyclists to accomplish the extraordinary. Over the years, the foundation and its ride expanded quickly. New routes and distances were added and cyclist fundraisers increased exponentially. In 2012, it expanded its reach to support the entire hospice palliative care community in Ontario. 50 operational volunteers help to run this mostly volunteer-driven organization that has raised close to $2 million in cumulative funds over the last nine years. 
The Healing Cycle Ride’s 10th Anniversary will be held on June 22, 2014, and a grand celebration is in order. From rejection to determined accomplishment, its volunteers work together for a motivating cause. For more information, visit or contact Jennifer Boyko at or 416-476-3518.

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