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Alberta Cancer Foundation

A triathlon of fundraising in memory of dad

Jennifer Minardi was sitting in hospital with her dad Chris Beer, when she first heard about the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

“We heard a commercial about the ride and I asked, ‘Who would do that? Who would bike 200 kilometers?’ He looked at me and said, ‘You would!’”

And so Jennifer, who believed the idea was crazy from the get go, began training in an effort to chase away the cancer that made her dad suffer so much.

“I signed up the day he got insanely sick. Cycling 200 km is hard, but watching your dad fight for his life, knowing he won’t make it, is harder,” she said.

None of it was easy for Jennifer, 32, who is married and has two children, Isabella, four and Emily, two. As a young mother, she'd had little time for exercise.

Somehow, between visits to the hospital and attending to her family, she began training three times per week, covering more than 30 miles each time, even though she hadn’t been on a bike since she was 12.

“I started training one month before Dad died, Feb. 8. Then I took three weeks off and started again March 1,” she said.

Chris Beer was ill with kidney cancer for more than a year before he died. During his final year Jennifer entered every Alberta Cancer Foundation event that came her way. She raised $590 walking 10 km in The Underwear Affair and $6,500 in The Ride to Conquer Cancer. She raised more than $1,200 for the 33-km Weekend to End Breast Cancer.

So far, her Jenny Walking, Biking and Running for a Cure grand total is $8,390.

“I had so much support from family and friends,” she said, as she explained she wrote letters and solicited individual donations as well as hosting four home-party events with all proceeds going to her campaign to end cancer.

“I firmly believe that some day they’ll find something that maybe would have helped my dad. Cancer is ugly. If I can run and bike and walk to help, I’ll do it this year and next year and every year. I hope my kids will never have to go through what he did,” she said.

Her training sessions often begin with a hurting, aching, haunted feeling but by the end of a half hour or so, her mind is freed up, almost as if she is on a holiday from cancerous thoughts.

“It was a way to process a lot of stuff about dad’s death because even when I trained with the kids in a stroller, I had only my own thoughts. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about my hero, my dad.”

When she cycled the 200 grueling kilometers in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, she felt her dad was with her.

“I know he was with me. I think he knew and would have been proud. And as soon as I passed the finish line I was able to say ‘goodbye’ to dad,” she said.