Amora Depenau took the easy way up to the top in the Climb For Cancer, high up the sandy slope of the cutbanks overlooking the Nechako River.
She had a womb with a view for the journey.
Her mother Leila was still carrying her in her swollen abdomen, trying to bring on natural labour for her two-days-overdue arrival. The added burden of her first child was no hindrance; she made the round-trip twice on Saturday with her husband Eric to fulfill her commitment to the cause.
“We’re trying to get her coming and that’s part of it,” said Leila, who used a cane and an occasional hand from Eric to steady herself on the steep hill. “It wasn’t not too bad, actually. It was easier this year because it wasn’t cold. I’m glad it wasn’t canceled.”
Amora’s middle name will be Seleyian, in tribute to Leila’s aunt who died of cancer in 2012 in their native Kenya. Eric, a military serviceman who doubles as a firefighter, was out of town when his wife did the Canadian Cancer Society event last year and this was his first crack at it. Like the rest of the onlookers gathered at slope Saturday, he was impressed with Leila’s determination to introduce their unborn child to what has become a family tradition.
“It’s pretty impressive, we were only going to do it once and she dragged me up a second time,” said Eric. “(Amora) might be the youngest climber of this year,” he quipped.
At five years old, Corbin Carr was the youngest to make it up under his own power Saturday. He’s already a veteran of three Climbs For Cancer, but the first two were on the back of his dad, Kris. They were part of a family troop named Team Wayne, in honour of Kris’s father Wayne, who died of facial cancer two years ago.
“It was good,” said Corbin, while dumping the sand out his rubber boots. “I don’t know how that got in there.”
This is the fifth annual Climb For Cancer and it will be spread over two weekends to avoid large crowd gatherings in observance of provincial health rules during the pandemic. Usually held in April, the event was postponed for four months. The climb is a fundraiser for Kordyban Lodge, which provides affordable food and lodging for patients and their families while undergoing treatments at the BC Cancer Centre for the North.
Riley Windeler of Kamloops made the trip to Prince George specifically for the climb, as he has the past three years, and he was a frequent ascender on Saturday, completing the trip seven times. He has relatives in Williams Lake and draws his inspiration from family members who have been touched by cancer.
“I like doing non-profit events and I was here for an event a couple years ago when I heard about the climb,” said Windeler. “I’m at six (trips up) so far and I want to do at least seven.”
Karen Cadle volunteered for Saturday’s climb taking in registration forms from participants. Having just recovered from foot surgery, she was in no shape to compete the climb but was there at the base of the hill with her co-worker Deanna Braatz, who helped her get around in the wheelchair Cadle rented for the day. Cadle was inspired to get involved by her late mother, who died of cancer nine years ago.
“She went through six months of lots of chemo and lots of radiation,” said Cadle. “It was terrible. She never looked sick a day in her life and ended up passing away of lung cancer.”
Cadle donated her mother’s wigs to the Kordyban Lodge’s wig bank, shortly after it opened in 2013.
“I’ve had two (cancer) surgeries in Vancouver and I’ve had to use a place like Kordyban Lodge, so I know the need for the programs,” she said. “There’s a definite need for housing and stuff for the families who come to support loved ones. Everything helps, and when you have the support of your family you’ve got so much more fight and so much more will.”
Cadle’s job as Taco del Mar restaurant manager keeps her tied to her work on weekends, when the climb happens. She’s always supported the event by donating money, but this year her bunion surgery meant time off work, which allowed her to come and help out.
“The fundraising is so important, especially now,” said Cadle. “People don’t have the money but the disease does not stop. If you can afford a $15 pack of cigarette you can afford a $20 donation to Climb for Cancer to support a family.”
Braatz’s parents, Jan and Jim Crowe, both battled cancer 11 years ago and nobody had to twist her arm to convince her to be Cadle’s driver for the climb.
“My mom had breast cancer and my dad had prostate cancer, one right after the other, and they both recovered and are doing well,” said Braatz.
Donations can be directed through the website, www.climbforcancerpg.ca.As of Saturday afternoon the event had raised $8,200, with a goal of reaching $35,000.