Cancer challenger off to a flying start

By Geoff Lee

June 7, 2018 9:52 AM

Jarrod Russell, left, raised about $14,000 for kids’ cancer research at his Wings of the Warrior golf tournament at Rolling Green Fairways on June 3. Providing extra motivation was family friend and inspirational speaker and author Tom Watson. The event kicked off Russell’s fundraising drive in this year’s Great Cycle Challenge. Russell will ride his recumbent bike 1000 kilometres in June hoping to raise $25,000 for the SickKids Foundation. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

This year’s Wings of the Warrior Golf Tournament took flight raising nearly $14,000 to kickstart Jarrod Russell’s Great Cycle Challenge of 2018 to fight kids’ cancer.
The event, held at Rolling Green Fairways on June 3, got a motivational boost from family friend and guest speaker Tom Watson from British Columbia.
Watson is the author of Man Shoes that tells his story of overcoming childhood hardships and the death of his first wife Darlene from cancer to give his life a purpose.
He came to Lloydminster to cheerlead Russell’s quest to be the top cycle challenge fundraiser in Canada for the third year in a row for the SickKids Foundation    
“This cause for Jarrod that he’s taken on is also very gratifying for him and so it gives him a purpose in his life and I think we all need purpose,” said Watson at Rolling Green Fairways.
Watson said Russell’s really taken his purpose to another level and Lloydminster has really helping him take it to another level.
“So that’s why I’m here, to help him take it to another level,” he said.
The 42 year-old Lloydminster activist plans to ride 1,000 kilometres around town in the June cycle contest hoping to add another $25,000 to his total including net proceeds for the golf tournament.
This year 76 golfers and 18 teams took part backed by lots of sponsorships and a silent auction.
Russell said he was stoked by the turnout and having Watson as a guest speaker.
“I am really excited he came all the way for this event—it’s great to see what he came from and what his story was,” said Russell.
At an early age, Watson became a foster child who overcame tremendous adversity before finding a home with his 13th foster family.
He came to Lloyd to share his inspirational story along with his many accomplishments as the founder of Your Better Life and president of his own company, Recreation Excellence.
His Man Shoes book is a best seller that he says is all about becoming the best person you can no matter what life throws at you and how to give yourself a purpose.
He said that’s what Russell’s cancer fundraising for kids is all about supported by his parents and his sister Lana Lane who organized the golf tournament.
“The Russell and Lane families have allowed Jarrod to take this on and really grow even though he was affected by cancer in a big way, and not use it as a crutch but as a symbol for what you can do even through great adversity,” said Watson.
Russell had multiple surgeries and follow-up treatments for a malignant brain tumour diagnosed when he was just four.
As a result of the radiation he received he suffers from epilepsy and is partially paralyzed on his right side, but ever motivated to ride to fight kids’ cancer.
He will ride every day in June despite having limited movement of his affected arm, fingers and leg.
“It’s a pleasure to ride to raise funds to cure childhood cancer,” said Russell, who had raised $3,085 and rode 69 kilometres in the first two days of June.
Donations can be made on Russell’s page on the greatcyclechallenge.ca website.
He’s wearing the new cycle challenge hero shirt designed by a child with cancer supported by the SickKids Foundation.
“That’s what they are keying on—every child at SickKids is a hero in my books,” he said.
He said so far he is getting a lot of waves from people who recognize him riding his recumbent bike.
“I’m going to Bud Miller and kids are coming up to me and shaking my hands—it’s a proud moment,” said Russell.

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