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Woman's battle with breast cancer inspires fitness fundraiser

Organizers of the Tour de Elora are hoping participants collectively log 10,000 km and raise $10,000 for a Kitchener cancer centre
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Gillian Alton said her battle with breast cancer at a young age inspired her to create the Tour de Elora.

ELORA – A local woman’s battle with cancer at a young age has inspired a fitness-based fundraiser for a hospital that did so much for her. 

Gillian Alton was 31-years-old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer six years ago. 

“I had my surgery, chemo and radiation through the Grand River Cancer Centre and they were absolutely amazing,” Alton said in a phone interview. 

“Their volunteers, everyone who works there is absolutely amazing. Myself and my family had so much support from them that part of my recovery and moving on involved this fundraiser. I wanted to give back to the cancer centre.”

Alton said she came up with the idea for the Tour de Elora fundraiser to give back and to raise awareness around breast cancer in young women. 

She said fitness was a crucial aspect to her recovery and worked-out with RT Health Co. to get back into better health and she now co-owns Elora Fitness with them.

This was where the first Tour de Elora was held in 2019 as a stationary bikeathon.

Due to COVID last year, the organizers adjusted and came up with the 10 for 10. 

The idea of the 10 for 10 is for all participants to collectively log 10,000 km and raise $10,000 during October which is breast cancer awareness month.

Alton said any time participants walk, bike or run, those kilometres through the website to go toward the goal. 

“So everyone can make their own personal goal and it’s great because it’s stuff you’re doing anyway,” Alton said. “So if you’re walking, riding your bike or just taking your dog for a walk, all those kilometres count. So it’s nothing you have to train for.”

Local businesses can also get involved in a friendly competition with each other. The business with the highest average kilometres wins the Tour de Elora cup. Prizes will also be awarded to individuals who log the most kilometres.

Because this can be done anywhere, Alton said participants aren’t limited to just locals and previously had people as far away as Jamaica and Australia logging kilometres. Alton doesn’t see age as a limiter either as the ages ranged from five to 90 for participants in last year’s fundraiser. 

“We encourage everyone to tell their friends, make it a group event and get walking, running or biking for cancer,” Alton said. 

Organizers intend to hold a closing ceremony at the Elora Fitness parking lot to announce the winners. 

For more information on how to get involved and donate, click here