During a four month contract at the MS Society, I had the incredible opportunity to interview eight incredible participants in the RONA MS Bike Tour. These are their stories.
Ken has fundraising down to a science.
As I sit in his office on the seventh floor of the MS Society, just a few doors from my own, he breaks it down. First you set an example and to your own cause, make a donation. He starts by sponsoring his team, which includes his wife and two daughters, $500. Next he approaches what he calls his “greatest champions,” who have been particularly generous in the past. This combination puts a number on the board that other people are inspired to meet. Having a compelling reason to beat past years totals, doesn’t hurt either. As a result of this strategy, Ken has raised thousands of dollars as a rider in the RONA MS Bike Tour – Toronto over twelve rides and aims to raise over $15,000 this year.
Ken was born in Ontario, but throughout his life has lived across the country. He studied International Relations before taking a position at the MS Society.
“I was looking for a job,” Ken says in a matter-of-fact tone. “I wanted to do something that would give back… that would help other people. I’d been traveling awhile between undergrad and grad. And I just wanted to land somewhere that I thought I could make a difference.”
That he did. In 21 years at the organization, Ken started in the Read-a-Thon program, helped launch the MS Walk program and ended up working in the National Office. Now the Chief Development Officer at the MS Society of Canada, Ken’s dedication and hard work allows him to truly make a difference.
“It’s a great privilege,” adds Ken. “It’s challenging work. But the need is great and the people we serve are even greater. I have a huge amount of respect and inspiration from people who I’ve had the honor to work with as volunteers and staff.”
Ken does draw a lot of inspiration from the people around him. He explains that, while riding he often thinks about all of the incredible people he’s met over the years and how they inspire him through facing their diagnosis and living their lives with hope and.
Ken has also started exposing his children to the charity he’s offered and the people he has worked with. Both Kate, who is 8, and Leigha, who is 6, have participated in the RONA MS Bike Tour for multiple years. Through raid and cold, his daughters have both ridden bikes and been towed by their father in a trailer along the 30K trail. The girls are an inspiration to other riders and have a lot of fun too.
“They like it better now that they can ride,” chuckles Ken. “They didn’t like it when they had to sit in the trailer being pulled everywhere by me. Nor did I.”
Given his own daughters’ participation, it’s no surprise what Ken responded when asked what those people who were considering the tour should do.
Ken was adamant: “Go for it for sure. It’s easier than you think it is and its far more rewarding than you would expect. It’s a pretty great feeling when you’ve crossed the finish line and you know that you’ve helped others and helped yourself along the way.”