© Dru Kennedy
Maike Van Niekerk has finished her cross-province bike tour to raise money and awareness of the costs of travel for radiation treatments.
Her faith in the people of Newfoundland and Labrador solidified, Maike Van Niekerk has completed her cross-province bike tour.
The 19-year-old nursing student from Massey Drive cycled into St. John’s Wednesday to complete the first of what she hopes will be an annual fundraiser for Katrin’s Karepackage.
“It was the best feeling ever,” Van Niekerk said of completing the final leg. “When I biked up the hill to the St. John’s sign, I had a little tear come down my face.”
It was a combination of excitement and relief. The trek was at times more mentally exhausting than physically, she said, but it was the people’s encouragement and stories that helped her through it.
“It reminded me of what I was doing,” she said. “Sometimes, being on bike for six hours, it is easy to forget what you are doing it for.”
There is now more than $31,000 in the fund of the organization she started to honour her mother’s memory. Katrin Kohler died in 2011 from breast cancer.
The separate fund to help offset the costs of travel and accommodations for patients undergoing radiation treatment for cancer established by Van Niekerk is now available through the Canadian Cancer Society.
Seeing her goal come to fruition is a surreal feeling for the Dalhousie University student.
“It makes me really proud, and excited, that it is more than a fundraiser,” she said. “It is nice to know I can see where the money is going ... who it is going to and how many people it is impacting in Newfoundland.”
While the fund is open to donations year-round, Van Niekerk is committing to an annual large-scale fundraiser. Next year’s, and subsequent events, have yet to be determined.