Peggy Li, Cassandra Strauss-Bate, J.H. Han and Zack Yewchuk get in the spin of things to promote Elgin Park Secondary’s upcoming CYCLE4:ER fundraiser. (Tracy Holmes photo)

South Surrey students gear up for swan-song spin-a-thon

Elgin Park fundraiser ‘going out better than we started’

Elgin Park Secondary leadership students and staff are gearing up for the return – and grand finale – of a spin-a-thon fundraiser that first rolled out in 2009 to raise proceeds for juvenile diabetes.

CYCLE4:ER – benefiting, for the third time, Peace Arch Hospital’s emergency-department expansion – is set for May 29 in the gymnasium of the South Surrey school.

READ MORE: Construction starts on $83.7-million Peace Arch Hospital ER expansion

READ MORE: School effort spins $46,000 for ER

On that day, participants, in teams, will be challenged to cycle on stationary bikes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Organizers are hoping for 70 teams – 700 riders in all – and that the end result will be at least $50,000 towards the expansion effort.

It’s a cause everyone can relate to, regardless of whether they’ve needed the ER themselves, the students explained Tuesday of the continued focus.

For Cassandra Strauss-Bate, the drive to help is boosted by her own experience in the ER two years ago, when she went to Peace Arch Hospital for her appendix. The wait time was “really long,” it was several hours before she was diagnosed and, “I couldn’t get a bed,” the Grade 12 student said.

The cause is also close to fellow Grade 12 student J.H. Han’s heart.

Han said his dad was seriously injured in a car crash last fall and that paramedics told the teen they would not be transporting his dad to PAH as it was “not a big enough trauma centre.”

As a lifeguard, Han said he also wants to rest assured that anyone taken to hospital due to injuries sustained at his workplace gets the care they need.

If previous spin-a-thon results at the school are any indication – combined, the four have raised more than $200,000 – this year’s $50,000 goal is a reasonable one.

Regardless of whether the target is reached, “every penny, every action we do, makes a difference,” said P.E. department head Sue Janzen.

Janzen said the leadership students are also “paying it forward, to inspire other youth to pay it forward.”

In explaining why this year is the event’s last, Janzen said it has come full-circle in many ways, including with the return of former student participants as sponsors, spin instructors and speakers. She noted the student who was the inspiration behind the inaugural event, Zack Yewchuk, is now in her Grade 8 class.

Yewchuk, now 14, said he will be participating on a spin team with friends. He said he hasn’t needed the ER himself, but has “a lot” of friends who have.

“It’s great to try and help out, because a lot of them said it was so long a wait,” he said.

The students are also promising 210 ‘epic wins’ from the spin-a-thon. Peggy Li, in Grade 11, named inspiring others in the community and “igniting the school culture” among them, along with working together and “reaching our potential.”

Co-organizer and former EPS parent Cheryl Wilson-Stewart – whose daughter graduated in 2008, ahead of the first spin-a-thon – told Peace Arch News she has been floored by the efforts and enthusiasm of Janzen and the students over the years.

She described Janzen’s ability to connect with the leadership students and get them invested in the fundraiser as “amazing.” The students this year, Wilson-Stewart added, are “on fire.”

“They’re so keen and enthusiastic,” she said. “When you see that coming out of them, you feel like everything is in good hands.

“We hear so many stories that are negative about youth these days, it seems. And this is the complete opposite. This is kids that are fully engaged, that are excited about what they’re doing… that are involved in something that is much greater than themselves.”

With entertainment, prizes and more, Janzen said the wrap-up event will be the best ever.

“I don’t think it can get any better,” she said. “We are creating the best event ever that these kids can be so proud of.

“We’re going to go out better than we started.”

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