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PWOS kick off ride in Humboldt

It was an emotion-filled evening as the Prairie Women on Snowmobiles launched their Mission 2012 in Humboldt on January 26.
Natelle Nordick (right),a PWOS core rider from Englefeld, presents Rosemarie Buttinger, a local breast cancer survivor, with a special survivor pin during a ceremony at the PWOS Mission 2012 kick-off banquet held January 26 in Humboldt.

It was an emotion-filled evening as the Prairie Women on Snowmobiles launched their Mission 2012 in Humboldt on January 26.
Though their ride across Saskatchewan to raise awareness of breast cancer and funds for research into a cure did not begin until the morning of January 27, over 150 people - mostly women - gathered at the official kick-off banquet for the ride at the Humboldt Legion the night before.
Those 150-plus people experienced an emotional roller coaster that evening, shedding tears during the survivor pinning ceremony, and the speeches from the core riders, then chuckling during demonstrations of laughing yoga and zumba during the entertainment portion of the evening.
With pink - the colour of breast cancer support - decorations everywhere, the banquet was one of many the riders will experience on their eight-day ride across Saskatchewan. The ride will involve stops in 33 communities, and will cover 1,600 kilometres. One hundred per cent of the funds they've raised already and will raise along the way will go to the Canadian Cancer Society for breast cancer research. In the last 11 years, PWOS have raised over $1.6 million for research.
The 12 riders - 10 core and two alternate - who were formally marched to their seats on the hall's stage at the outset of the banquet, hail from all over the province. Two - Natelle Nordick and Rosalie Venderbuhs - are from Englefeld, while others come from Meadow Lake, Saskatoon, Wadena, Christopher Lake, Warman, Landis, Wilkie, Star City and Martensville.
All spoke at the banquet of the reasons they had decided to ride with PWOS this year.
For some, it was because they have had very personal experiences with cancer in their families, or in their lines of work. Others want to prevent cancer from touching themselves, their friends, their daughters, or see the ride as a way to give back for everything they have been given in their lives, as one young rider tearfully explained.
One rider, Crystal Paulson from Wadena, revealed that she is riding for a woman she has never met, but whose story of battling cancer she heard from her hairdresser.
"I hope to meet her and tell her she became my reason for riding," Paulson said, showing off the pink streaks she had put in her hair for the ride.
One of the alternate riders, Dorinda Thompson of Martensville, said she wanted to ride for her mother-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, and for everyone's children and grandchildren.
"I want to end this. I want to kick its butt," she said of cancer, summing up the sentiments of many of the riders.
Nordick, a home care nurse, said that as a nurse, it's her instinct to fix things.
"By riding, I'm doing what I can to fix cancer," she said.
Venderbuhs lost her mother to cancer three years ago, and she became her inspiration to ride.
She and Nordick joined forces to fundraise the $3,000 each core rider needs to put together, but the two far exceeded their goal of $6,000.
"We have raised over $15,000 from Englefeld, St. Gregor, Humboldt and area," she revealed.
Even more money came in that night. The Stick Witches female hockey team handed over a cheque for $600, raised at a tournament held in Englefeld in January.
Shoppers Drug Mart in Humboldt also presented a cheque for $3,192 - proceeds from their annual Tree of Life campaign, held each fall.
As they do at each stop on their journey, at one point in the evening, the riders invited breast cancer survivors in the room to come forward to receive a special pin, designed especially for survivors and which represents strength, courage and hope.
The two local riders - Nordick and Venderbuhs - handed out pins to eight different women.
One of the survivors that evening took home a special quilt made after the PWOS 10th anniversary ride.
The quilt, made of blocks made by each core rider, is offered to anyone going through cancer as a comfort, explained Wanda Kiefer, a former core rider.
"Each block was made with love and thought," she said. "As you can see, we're not just about snowmobiles."
Renee Stuckel, a native of Lake Lenore who is now a clinical social worker at the Cancer Centre in Saskatoon, was the guest speaker for the evening.
Her job, she said, is hard, but so rewarding.
"I chose to do what I do. I love it," she said. "It's a privilege for me to work with patients and their families to help make them well again."
Cancer, she said, is a very inconvenient disease. It makes people press the "pause" button on their lives, and sends them to the cancer clinic, a strange world with a new language.
"The fear of the unknown is the biggest thing, I find, that my patients deal with," she said, along with the loss of control.
One of the most striking things that Stuckel discussed was the pressure cancer patients feel to "think positive" all the time.
Breast cancer patients, especially, are expected to be thinking positive all the time, due to what she called "the pink ribbon culture" out there now.
"They are expected to be upbeat, cheerful and support the pink ribbon," she said.
Some can, and do. But some don't feel they can, and that's okay, too, Stuckel stressed.
It's stressful, she noted, for those unable to think positively all the time, as they think because of their sometimes negative thoughts, their cancer is going to recur.
"Some feel weak when they talk about what they are feeling," Stuckel said. "They let their guards down in my office."
Those who beat cancer often experience a difficult transition back into their regular lives, she added.
"They feel pressure to have more gratification in their lives... some have survivor guilt," she revealed.
Cancer crosses all demographic lines regardless of age, ethnicity or finances, she said, and praised the support those in the Humboldt area have shown for fundraisers for research, including PWOS.
The formal program ended with a candle-lighting ceremony, done to the song "True Colours" performed by local band 40oz Philosophy. Each person was invited to light a candle which carried the message: "Remembering the take, supporting the fighting, admiring the survivors....hoping for a cure."
The entertainment portion of the evening focused around wellness, health and exercise, and involved explanations of chair yoga and rebounding, and demonstrations of laughing yoga - laughing, even the fake kind, releases endorphins that are good for you, explained instructor Marge Foley Jacobs - and zumba, an exercise class inspired by Latin dancing, done by local instructors Danielle Saretsky and Terry Christensen
The next morning, PWOS left on their Mission 2012 from Humboldt's south end, heading towards Lanigan and Wynyard.