The Prairie Women on Snowmobiles had a warm and sunny Saturday for their final official ride. The organization has planned to sunset their activities this year, and so one more late winter ride on the trail between Humboldt and Naicam was the order of the day. Riders, the supporters and pits crews, and officials from the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan and Canadian Cancer Society enjoyed a last visit and banquet at the Bella Vista Inn in Humboldt.
Some of the guests arrived in the SUV that supports the mammogram bus set up to tour the province and screen for breast cancer. Nora Yeates, CEO of the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan, talks about the vehicle as one of the many contributions funded by PWOS.
“The SUV is a vehicle that travels with the mobile mammography bus, and it carries all of their supplies for the week and the employees that work on the bus. The Prairie Women on Snowmobiles funded that SUV, and they have also contributed money to a new mobile mammography bus as well.”
There’s no doubt about the fundraising impact that the Prairie Women have had when it comes to equipping mobile units, but their impact has been felt in other ways.
“They’ve raised over $2.5 million dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society for research with a lot of that staying in Saskatchewan,” says Roger Lohman, supporter engagement, Canada west with the Cancer Society. “They are a group of incredible women who are providing a message of hope, and hopefully one day we’ll live in a world where nobody fears breast cancer.”
As President of PWOS Kelly Rea explained, the women have visited 198 Saskatchewan communities during their existence and in each of those places, the riders have delivered positive messaging, but also encouragement for women to get checked for breast cancer and to be aware of the signs that could be life saving.
The PWOS riders have created a culture of support and excitement that is infectious within the communities that they visit, so much so that the many communities who host them have requested their return. The fundraising aspect is one thing, but the personal connections they’ve fostered among themselves and in the communities they visit has been nothing short of remarkable.
“Every time they go to a community, they have a pinning ceremony,” explains Yeates, “They invite breast cancer survivors up at their banquets, and they pin them. So it is a real moment in that community that brings everybody together, and it’s hope. Bringing that feeling to a community is absolutely incredible.”
There was one more pinning ceremony to complete at last Saturday’s banquet in a moment that will long be remembered.
“It’s bittersweet that this is ending,” Yeates confesses, but the contribution that the riders, the pit crew, the executive has made, it’s immeasurable. For 22 years, they have ridden around this province and created awareness for breast cancer.”
While these riders may choose to reassemble some time in the future, the legacy the organization has left will be remembered and celebrated for years to come.