Erickson's Virginia and Cliff Romano at a Creston community complex spin class as they prepare for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Erickson's Virginia and Cliff Romano at a Creston community complex spin class as they prepare for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Creston Valley couple preparing for Ride to Conquer Cancer

Web Lead

  • Feb. 24, 2014 1:00 p.m.

In the spring, Virginia and Cliff Romano will embark on a new adventure: riding 200 kilometres from Vancouver to Seattle on June 14 and 15 in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

But first, they are each raising $2,500 to benefit the BC Cancer Foundation — and taking regular spin classes to get ready for the ride.

“It’s quite a challenge to take on and get prepared,” said Virginia, who runs a popular blueberry farm in Erickson.

“It’s not a game for old people,” added Cliff with a laugh.

He is almost 72 and she’ll be 69 a month after the ride, and they both found spin class difficult at first — a 45-minute class is equal to 20 kilometres — but it’s gotten easier since starting a few months ago.

Whatever the difficulty, it’s worth it, though — Virginia has had non-Hodgkin lymphoma twice and wants to give back. She dealt with it over 30 years ago, and was most recently diagnosed in 2010, with a CT scan coming back clear after a year of treatment.

As with many people, cancer has touched the couple in more ways than one. Cliff’s dad and aunt died of cancer, and a friend of Virginia’s died when she was a teenager.

“He was diagnosed with leukemia then, and he passed away as a young high school student,” she said.

While Virginia was having her most recent round of cancer treatments, three friends from Crawford Bay — where she and Cliff lived for 20 years — were in the clinic at same time, and all three died.

But cancer isn’t Virginia’s only reason for heading out on the ride. She’s simply thankful that she can. Several years ago, an immune disorder attacked her nerves and left her paralyzed, leaving her to struggle with recovery as she went from wheelchair to walker to cane.

“To actually ride after that and cancer, it’s meeting a big personal goal,” she said. “The hospitals have done so much for me.”

In addition to their $5,000 goal, of which they have raised over $1,500, the couple also wants to put in a good performance, aiming to make it to the halfway mark at the end of the first day. If not, the organizers send out “sweepers” to collect people who are still riding at 7 p.m.

“I have a goal to not be one of those people,” said Virginia.

Now that they’ve been attending for a while, they’re enjoying the spin classes at the Creston and District Community Complex, instructed by Tia Wayling. And when spring arrives, they will practice outdoors to be fully prepared.

In addition to making the Ride to Conquer Cancer easier the training will also help them to stay healthier — which will please their children to no end.

“Our son said one day, ‘You’re not dead. It’s kind of sad to see you sitting around,’ ” recalled Cliff.

“Our kids are always after us to keep in shape,” said Virginia.

For more information on the ride or to donate, visit www.conquercancer.ca, and click on “BC”. Under the “Join the Conquest” tab, click “Donate” to search for and donate to the Romanos.