Rudy Pospisil: on the road 

Firefighter and part-time Burnaby resident turns heads with epic rides for cancer

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For Rudy Pospisil, every day feels like a gift. Some 10 years ago he was diagnosed with cancer and eventually needed to have his lymph nodes removed and tested.

"It was a wait of several months before surgery," Pospisil recalls. "In that time the doctors told me to 'get my affairs in order' as they did not know the extent or how far it had spread.

"So your whole life gets put into perspective. Did I do what I wanted to do in life, what have I accomplished, what would they write in an obituary? That was 10 years ago now. I've been busy since then."

And in the last few years Pospisil has been extremely busy, organizing and executing long distance cycling epics while raising money for cancer research.

He first got the idea to raise money for cancer research from Vancouver's Jimmy Pattison, who made a donation on Pospisil's behalf when his illness became public.

"As busy and as well known as he is, he took the time to call me to talk about my illness, and thank me for writing (a thank you letter), as it inspired him," said Pospisil. "From that day on, he inspired me to do what I could to make other people feel better that were sick. I set out to raise funds for cancer research."

Naturally, Pospisil was also inspired by the example set by Terry Fox three decades ago.

Pospisil is a fire captain based in Burnaby, but has been coming up to Whistler skiing, hiking and biking for 35 years, from a young age when his Austrian parents started to come here on a regular basis. He owns a home here and rides his bike a lot in the area - especially the new road up the Callaghan Valley to Whistler Olympic Park.

The important thing is putting in the miles.

In 2009, Pospisil headed for Europe where he cycled through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, following the Danube River most of the way. Before he left he wrote to fire departments in those countries, as well as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and foreign consulates. That resulted in events in Passau, Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

"It was a new idea to most of these people - a guy riding a bike to raise money for cancer," says Pospisil. "They liked it. To this day they have a run in Prague and Budapest for their cancer agencies."

Pospisil doesn't know how much money was raised with funds going towards cancer agencies in those countries, but says the important thing was to inspire others to do fundraisers of their own.

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