Hazel Amos, 96, works out five days a week, every week.
She started her routine a year ago when she moved to Bethshan Gardens, an independent living residence in Cloverdale, B.C.
At first, her goal was to maintain her strength. Lately, however, she has been training for another reason — so she can compete for the sixth year in a row at the Inside Ride fundraiser, which supports children who are battling cancer.
The Inside Ride is a one-hour indoor bike race that pits teams of six against each other. Each team member takes a 10-minute shift on a stationary bike, and at the end of the hour the kilometres that each bike travelled are counted. The team who went the longest distance wins a prize, and so do the teams with the best costumes and the loudest cheerleaders.
Amos’ team is called A Mother’s Love, and she competes in honour of her “adopted grandson” Brendan Whieldon, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 when he was four years old.
Brendan’s mother, Shannon Whieldon, is Amos’ longtime friend and now her personal trainer. Together they do a full-body workout, including squats, bicep curls and push ups, twice a week, she said.
“And that sideways walk that I hate,” added Amos.
Whieldon laughed. A retired nurse, and now a manager at Physiologists Training Studio in Cloverdale, she knows that the exercises that Amos hates the most are the ones that are the best for her. “She hates training her weaknesses, so we always do it,” she said. “But that’s pretty typical of everybody.”
Whieldon and Amos have known each other for decades — since before Brendan was born.
When Brendan was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy, Amos would relieve Whieldon at his bedside “so that Shannon could have some time to herself,” she said.
| Hazel Amos stretches with trainer Shannon Whieldon.
“It was a gift from heaven,” said Whieldon. “Grandma Hazel would sit with Brendan in the hospital and I could take a half an hour to have a break, get some exercise, get some fresh air, have a shower. He just felt so safe with her.”
Brendan, his mother and “Grandma Hazel” started fundraising for children battling cancer the same year he was diagnosed. Whieldon also became a board member with the Childhood Cancer Family Support Society (formerly the British Columbia Childhood Cancer Parents Association).
Brendan underwent eight years of chemotherapy, and then three years of leg surgery. Today, at 20, he continues to participate in fundraising activities such as the Inside Ride, which Whieldon and her fellow board directors Dave and Suzanne Dunbar organize.
All the money that is raised will be given directly to families whose children are being treated for cancer. Families are referred to the Childhood Cancer Family Support Society by social workers at B.C. Children’s Hospital, teachers or health professionals, and the society then awards small cash grants, no questions asked.
This year, the fundraising goal is $50,000.
The Inside Ride will take place on Friday, Oct. 26 at Cloverdale Recreation Centre from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, including how to donate or participate, visit insideride.com.