Retired principal rides 100km in fundraiser to benefit Hospice Dufferin

October 1, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

With torrential rain descending from the heavens and strong winds howling all around him, Dan LaCute pushed on in the face of adversity this past weekend to complete one of the most significant physical challenges he’s ever endured.

An avid cyclist, Mr. LaCute travelled to Mississauga on Sunday (Sept. 15) to participate in the 14th annual Healing Cycle Foundation bike ride fundraiser, in benefit of Hospice Dufferin.

The event features hundreds of participants on an annual basis, with individuals signing up and raising funds for their local hospice chapter. While the main premise is to have people participate in one of the three bike routes on offer through the event – 10km, 25km and 100km, this year’s Healing Cycle also featured a walk for the first time, something Mr. LaCute says helped to drive up interest and participation.

“It was definitely a busier event this year. There were probably a couple hundred people out over the course of the day,” Mr. LaCute said. “The walk was popular. There were a lot of participants in the walk.”

Just as he has done in each of the previous four years, Mr. LaCute committed to tackling the 100km bike ride. While he has always been something of a lone ranger in his previous endeavours, riding alone, Dan had some company this time around in the shape of his 30-year-old son Daniel and family friend Richard (LAST NAME). 

“That was a huge help. It made such a difference having people there to ride alongside me,” Mr. LaCute told the Citizen. “Just having that additional support, having people you know and having a plan… We each took turns taking the lead. We used a technique called drafting, where we ride right in a straight line. We stick really close to one another, our tires are literally two inches apart, so there’s a lot of trust there. It helps because you don’t expend as much energy when you’re following someone in that format. We’d do maybe 10km in front and switch out regularly.”

Dan recalls one particular part of the ride where, with the elements being completely uncooperative, making for a tricky ride, he started to wonder whether he’d made the right decision signing up for the marathon on wheels. That feeling quickly wavered though, when he remembered what he was riding for.

“We were about 10km in and the rain wasn’t relenting one bit. It was pouring. I started to feel a little sorry for myself and thinking about horrible this was,” Mr. LaCute stated. “Then I thought about all the people in the care of Hospice Dufferin, the radiation therapy, or chemotherapy treatments they’re going through now, and something just clicked. I realized I was going to be finished in a couple of hours, while those individuals have to go through what they go through on a daily and weekly basis.”

He added, “I don’t know where it came from, but that really refocused me. I started to pick up the pace. Our plan going in was to average around 25km/h, but I was going way faster than that. I remember my son saying ‘hey, we’re already doing 32km/h’, and I just said ‘that’s okay, stick with me’. There was a block of 15 km/h where we were going really fast, but I just had this adrenaline rush come over me.”

The team finished the 100 km/h ride with a time of 3 hours and 56 minutes. Having collected pledges all summer long, Dan finished as the third highest individual fundraiser at this year’s event, raking in a total of $5,960. Accumulatively, since his first ride back in 2015, Mr. LaCute has raised more than $20,000 for Hospice Dufferin through the Healing Cycle.

As a former president and current member of the Hospice Dufferin board, Dan said he feels it’s his duty to go above and beyond for an organization he says does a tremendous amount of work in our community.

“Hospice Dufferin is one of those organizations where you don’t truly know or appreciate what they do until you have to use their services, but what I can say is that, to those that make use of its services, Hospice Dufferin is absolutely vital to our community,” Mr. LaCute previously told the Citizen. 

Hospice Dufferin is responsible for raising 40 percent of its annual budget each year – that number is slated to be approximately $127,000 in 2019. Money received through different fundraisers help to support general programming. According to Executive Director Maureen Riedler, Hospice Dufferin provides emotional, physical and practical supports to individuals and their families diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. This can be from end of life to bereavement.

Some of the programs currently in place at Hospice Dufferin include the volunteer visiting program, crafting for wellness, meet and greets, legacy scrapbook initiative, breathe and stretch it out, art therapy and therapeutic yoga. So far in 2019, the organization has supposed 294 clients and their families. Ten of those cases involved children who needed additional counselling.

“It’s really important to have people doing things like this for us on an annual basis. We can’t do this alone. We need that support from our community, from people doing third-party fundraising,” Ms. Riedler said. “But, aside from the money, participation in these events helps to raise awareness. Fundraising is important for sure, but the awareness and education component is huge too.”

Having now completed his fifth ride, Mr. LaCute is laying down a challenge to the community.

“Set the date aside next year. The ride always the third Sunday in September – it would be really nice to see more people from Dufferin County participating,” Mr. LaCute said. “This is something that anyone can do. Most people don’t think they can do it, but it’s just a matter of getting out often and doing training. It’s just as much psychological and it is physical. I would say, if someone is capable of riding 60km, they can definitely do 100km. It’s a matter of building endurance and getting into the right frame of mind.”

While he’s unsure whether or not he’ll be able to commit to participating in the ride again in 2020, Dan knows once the time comes around, he’ll likely want to do it.

“Once you do something like this, you get hooked. It’s an adrenaline rush, while at the same time, it’s knowing you’re making a difference and doing something that’s going to benefit an incredible organization,” Mr. LaCute concluded.

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