07/31/2012 07:41 EDT | Updated 09/30/2012 05:12 EDT

The Ride for Karen Part 1: Karen's Story


Losing a parent to cancer is devastating. My brother and I are passionate cyclists and shortly after our mother died, we took a ride to get some air and returned with a refreshed perspective. What we came back with was an idea. The Ride for Karen is a yearly cycling event that is held as a tribute to the life and legacy of our mom Karen Tobias, who died of breast cancer at age 53, and to raise money for charities that help children living with cancer, and those who care for them.

During my mom's five-year battle, she spent her time providing hope and joy for all those around her. Her fighting spirit, passion for life, family and concern for the well-being of complete strangers never diminished. Karen would not give cancer an inch. Even at the toughest of times, her smile, New York sense of humour and love of life was close to the surface.

The Ride for Karen is a way for our family and friends to keep her dream alive, to continue her mission of building hope one cancer patient, and one family, at a time. The truth is, everyone has a Karen. These days, it's hard to find someone whose life hasn't been touched by cancer in some form. The Ride for Karen gives an opportunity for cyclists and their families to honour a loved one in the most beautiful way, by helping kids who are currently fighting their own battle.

As a cancer patient, our mom knew firsthand that hospitals were not a very positive environment in which to spend a lot of time. My mom wanted to make a difference and was dedicated to improving the quality of life of cancer patients and building hope, which she felt was a critical component of cancer care. That is why all funds raised from the 2012 Ride for Karen will be used to send kids with cancer to camp, in an effort to harness the positive power of hope.

My brother and I believe that if our mom was alive today she would be extremely gratified by what the Ride for Karen has accomplished and how many children battling cancer we are able to help each year. We both know how much she loved her grandchildren and saw firsthand the positive influence they had on her life, even when she was very ill. Seeing what our mother went through, we could not imagine the effect of cancer on a child. We know helping children with cancer is what Karen would want. The Ride for Karen is her legacy and our tribute to her life.

To learn more about the Ride for Karen and to register for one of the four events including, a 160 km course for advanced riders, 100 km course for intermediate riders, 25 km course for recreational cyclists, and a Kids Fun Ride for children two to 12 years old please visit and follow us on Twitter @RideForKaren to share your story.

Kirk Tobias is one half of the dynamic Tobias duo and co-founder of the Ride for Karen. Over the next few weeks, Kirk and Kris will be giving you insight into their lives as social entrepreneurs and avid cyclists. Stay tuned! Next instalment, Kirk and Kris Tobias will be discussing the top 10 charity cycling fitness tips to help you get the most out of your training and overall cycling experience.