The drive up the scenic Sea to Sky Highway is always special.
But it will be especially meaningful for one man taking part in the Diamond Car Rally this month, Vancouver investment advisor Darren Pedersen, who was given just weeks to live after being diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer.
That was three years ago.
"I always joke that I'm past my expiration date, so every day is a blessing," said Pedersen, who will be joining the caravan of luxury cars riding from Vancouver to Olympic Plaza on May 14 as part of the annual supercar rally.
More than just a chance to show off his ride, a Porsche 911 Carrerra 4 GTS, Pedersen will be raising money for a cause that's near and dear to his heart: the St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, which does about 400 colorectal cancer operations a year.
"(The rally) originally started as an opportunity for guys to embrace their super cars," Pedersen explained. "But we've sort of tweaked the Diamond Rally to become more of an opportunity to give to charities we're passionate about."
So far Pedersen has raised thousands of dollars the hospital has used to purchase essential equipment for minimally invasive rectal surgery. The funds he raises this year — over $10,000 at last count — will help St. Paul's establish a high-tech, multidisciplinary teleconference room that will allow staff to communicate with other physicians and patients across the country in real time.
"There have been hundreds of patients who have benefitted from (Pedersen and his fiancé Leanne's) efforts," noted Dr. Manoj Raval, a specialist in colon and rectal surgery at St. Paul's.
A fellow Porsche enthusiast, Raval will be joining the ride up to Whistler next week as a show of support for Pedersen, who he said has become more than just a patient to him.
"When you have someone with cancer, it's not like you have the treatment and it's a one-time thing and they're done. It's really a lifelong thing," he said. "With Darren specifically, it was just by chance we've both been nuts about Porsches since we were kids and we bonded over that. Through that we've found a vehicle to raise funds for something else we're both passionate about, which is colorectal cancer."
Pedersen's main goal now is to simply raise awareness of the preventative tools available to catch colorectal cancer before it's too late. To that end, he's established a charity, Faith, Hope, Love, which also provides support to families dealing with the disease.
"I truly believe that nobody ever has to pass away from colon cancer again. As long as you catch colon cancer soon enough, it can be treated and it can be cured," said Pedersen.
The Diamond Rally is scheduled to arrive in Whistler at around 4 p.m.
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