When Vern Yu’s good friend asked him to participate in 2009’s Ride to Conquer Cancer, benefiting the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Yu quickly agreed. “I thought I’d get involved to help him out,” says Yu, Vice President of business development and asset management at Calgary-based energy company Enbridge.
The next year when Yu asked his coworkers at Enbridge to join him on the ride of a lifetime, they were equally eager to get involved in the two-day cycling adventure. Seventy Enbridge employees participated in the ride. Equally significant, the company stepped up to the plate, backing them with corporate dollars, becoming the title sponsor of the event. The 2010 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer had thousands of participants cycling from Calgary to the Rocky Mountains and back over two days, raising a total of $7.3 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
“It was very rewarding that I was able to get the company I work for involved,” says Yu. “We were able to increase participation in the overall event and increase the amount of money raised for cancer research.”
This year, Yu and the team at Enbridge are stepping up their commitment. Enbridge is the national sponsor of the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer across Canada, with events taking place in Alberta, B.C., Quebec and Ontario in June and July. So far, 213 Enbridge employees and their families are participating in this year’s event, which takes place June 25-26 in Alberta. The Enbridge team has already raised nearly half a million dollars – and there’s still two months of fundraising before the event.
“At Enbridge, we feel that health and research are critical for the betterment of everyone,” says Yu. “We didn’t previously have a primary charity; we had donated to many charities. There was an opportunity to take a lead role in this particular event so we jumped on it.”
Enbridge’s support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation extends beyond the annual ride. The company has funded a research chair in psychosocial oncology at the University of Calgary since 2006. “Enbridge is proud of its long history with the Alberta Cancer Foundation,” says Dan O’Grady, national manger of community partnerships and investment.
“There was recognition at the company that cancer touches everyone,” says O’Grady of Enbridge’s extensive support. “Cancer touches our customers, our land owners and our employees. We saw this as an opportunity to do something that would have a long-term impact in the areas of research, awareness and education.”
The $3-million Enbridge Endowed Research Chair, in partnership with the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society, provides funding to Dr. Linda E. Carlson. Carlson’s research on understanding and treating the social, psychological, emotional, spiritual and functional aspects of cancer includes looking at alternative treatment, such as yoga and meditation.
“We know that there’s still a lot to be uncovered in the whole science of cancer detection,” says O’Grady of supporting such research. “The psychosocial oncology chair takes a holistic approach to support cancer patients, their families and everyone around them.”