Ottawa Citizen


Friend’s cancer diagnosis led to cross-country inline skate

Kingston native Richard Ralph left St. John’s, N.L. May 4 and hopes to be in Vancouver in September. He’s aiming to raise $300,000, Tony Lofaro reports.


Tony Lofaro, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2007

Richard Ralph has not reached the halfway point of inline skating across Canada and already he’s been moved by the generosity of Canadians to his campaign to raise money for cancer research.

The Kingston native said he was on the road heading toward Halifax when a vehicle stopped and a woman got out and donated a few dollars to his campaign. The vehicle pulled away and then about 25 metres in the distance stopped again and the woman’s eight-year-old daughter got out of the car.

“This little girl stood there and waited for me and as I skated up to her, she held her hand out and dropped 91 cents into my hand,” said Mr. Ralph, 27, who made a brief stop yesterday on Parliament Hill.

“It was absolutely priceless to have a young child be so aware of what I’m doing and the need for help. It was the most memorable donation.”

Mr. Ralph started his campaign of inline skating across Canada on May 4 in St. John’s, N.L. He hopes to finish the journey in Vancouver — where he now lives — sometime in September.

He aims to raise $300,000 for cancer research, with the funds going to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

He said he began his Skate for Hope campaign to raise awareness after one of his friends, Adam Reid, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with throat and lung cancer. He said the news hit him hard and he felt he wanted to do something to help.

“It was very shocking and it very easily could have been me because we have led similar lifestyles,” said Mr. Ralph, also a non-smoker.

He proposed the trip to his family and friends and his parents, Brian and Bev, retired schoolteachers, decided to join him, along with the family dog, Winnie, a 16-year-old mixed beagle.

The family is travelling in a motor home — which is a year older than the younger Mr. Ralph and was donated to the family by a trucking company.

He said he averages about 90 kilometres per day.

“I’m tired at the end of the day, but I’m not running a race so I’m not out pushing as hard as I can,” said Mr. Ralph who has several back-up inline skates if he needs them.

The halfway-point of the trek will be Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., which he expects to reach in a few weeks, he said.

“I’m happy with whatever I accomplish. Obviously, I want to see the end of cancer and $300,000 won’t cure cancer by any means. It’s just a contribution that I’m happy to make and knowing that I’ve touched so many people,” said Mr. Ralph.