The second year of the Ruck for a Cure takes place on Wednesday, October 26, and aims to build on the momentum it garnered last year.
The event is a 30-pound, 30-kilometre march from Canadian Forces Base Borden to Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) with the goal of raising funds in support of patient care at RVH.
Lieutenant Aaron Niles, Public Affairs Officer for 16 Wing at CFB Borden, organizer of the initiative, will be embarking on the trek while carrying a ruck (a weighted backpack, in this instance filled with flour).
The number 30 holds a special significance to Niles, as it was the number of days his little brother, Sean Niles, was told he had left to live, while he was fighting infantile acute lymphoblastic leukemia at Sick Kids hospital.
“We were told by doctors and nurses that there’s nothing else they could do, they estimated that he had 30 more days to live,” Niles told Barrie 360. “And so, this was something that’s always been very personal to me, it was devastating news for us to get … the 30 pounds and the 30 kilometres itself is indicative of a 30-day diagnosis my brother was given.”
His brother was able to recover though, which allowed for a successful bone marrow transplant with one of the only two matching donors worldwide.
The younger Niles, who is 12 years old, will accompany his older brother for the final two kilometres of the walk.
“Even though I’m doing this for everyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and suffering from it, the inspiration is from my little brother and what he went through,” Niles said. So, it’s very important for me to have him there with me.”
The Lieutenant says the ruck is a manifestation of the burden that everyone who has been impacted by cancer carries.
“In this case, the physical burden is representative of the emotional burden that people feel when they’re given a cancer diagnosis, or people they know and love are suffering from cancer,” Niles said.
“And so, we carry that burden with us for the rest of our lives, but much like a physical burden, the emotional burden can be shared. That’s why at any point in time, anyone from the local community can come join me and help carry the ruck as I make my way towards [RVH].”
Nametags of military members who have been affected by cancer in some capacity will be on the back of the ruck as well.
“I’m fortunate [Sean’s] still alive and well, but I know other people aren’t,” said Niles. “And so, that’s why I decided to do a 30-pound 30-kilometre charity ruck march.”
Last year’s efforts raised nearly $4,000 in funds for RVH, and this year seeks to surpass that.
Niles will depart from CFB Borden at the Angus Gate at 8:00 a.m. and march down highway 90, with an estimated arrival time at RVH between 2:30 – 3:00 p.m.
The following video was made about the march last year.
To place a donation towards the cause, click here.
Images via Lieutenant Aaron Niles