The Prairie Women on Snowmobiles (PWOS) rode into Martensville on Thursday, February 7th and thanks to the Martensville & District Kinsmen Club, they had quite the crowd to greet them. A fundraising event was held at the Adobe Inn in Martensville where those attending were treated to a delicious steak or chicken dinner, had the opportunity to take part in a 50/50 draw, raffle prizes or silent auction to help raise money for the PWOS.
PWOS is a non-profit organization that comes together each year to help raise money and awareness about breast cancer and the recreation of snowmobiling. The first mission took place in 2001 after two friends, one a breast cancer survivor, decided they wanted to do something to help raise awareness within the province. A group of ten volunteer snowmobilers are chosen annually to be a part of each mission and then travel across the province on a six day journey that covers approximately 1400kms stopping in various communities along the way. This year marked the 19th mission since inception, and more than $2.5 million has been raised over the years with 100% of the proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society for breast cancer research, or to the Sask Cancer Agency to be used for equipment. This year, a total of $59,808.89 was raised which will be used to support cancer care in the province.
“Without the support from you and from your community, Prairie Women on Snowmobiles would not have achieved such accomplishments and we thank you,” PWOS Rider Brandi Kashuba said.
The Martensville event kicked off with an introduction by Arnie Deschner of the Martensville & District Kinsmen Club who thanked everyone for attending.
Following supper, each of the riders had a chance to share their story of why they chose to participate in PWOS. Many had a close personal connection to friends and family members that have been diagnosed with cancer, some that survived and others that were not as fortunate. This year’s riders consisted of; Brittany Fox, Kim Hladun, Brandi Kashuba, Shawna Leson, Arlene Lockinger, Kaylee Plamondon, Janis Stanley, Alison Taylor, Nadine Wiebe-Trapp and Shauna Menzel.
At each of their stops, the women invite anyone in attendance that is either currently living with breast cancer, or is a breast cancer survivor to come to the front and receive a special Prairie Women on Snowmobiles pin that is designed to represent the struggle, courage and hope that women with breast cancer face. At the Martensville event, two women participated in the pinning ceremony and each took a moment to introduce themselves, share a little bit about their experience, and to thank the PWOS for what they are doing to help fight the disease that is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian women and the second most common cause of cancer death in women. “Events like these mean so much to me. I appreciate each and every one of you for doing what you do because it may mean that my daughters don’t have to face this disease. There are three words that no one ever wants to hear, ‘you have cancer’. It has affected my life in ways I never imagined and I am grateful for events like these that can help raise money to work towards a cure,” breast cancer survivor Deanna Ratzlaff said.
A generous donation by Hazel Crosson of two comfort quilts also took place. Crosson, a breast cancer survivor created one of the quilts, and the second was stitched by breast cancer survivors, including Crosson. The donated quilts will be added to the PWOS collection of eight comfort quilts which are loaned out to provide warmth and comfort to those that are travelling their cancer treatment journeys. Crosson shared the story of her own diagnosis and how a friend brought her a quilt that had been created by former PWOS riders. “That quilt meant the world to me and I slept under it for hours during my recovery. As a quilter myself, I knew how much work had gone into its construction. I have a very deep appreciation for what the quilt also meant to those who made it. That quilt told me that I had a team with me hoping for my recovery,” Crosson explained.
Many people stepped up to support the women on their journey, and PWOS President Kelly Rea spoke a little about how much appreciation the group has for everyone that has helped them throughout the years. “What we have been successful at doing over the last 18 years has been totally dependent on volunteers. I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart,” Rea said. A moment was taken to thank the Martensville & District Kinsmen Club, the Saskatoon Snowmobile Club, Geransky Construction, Adesa Saskatoon, the Adobe Inn, and Advance Electrical Agencies for their contribution for Canalta hotel rooms for the night. “Also, thank you to each and every one of you for giving up some of your special time to come out and hear our message. Time is the most precious thing that we have to give,” Rea added.
A reminder to everyone was also included in the evening that the best chance of survival when it comes to breast cancer is early detection and Rea reminded the crowd to do their self-breast examination, not just for the women, but also for the men in the room. “Breast cancer is not gender specific and men are just as devastated by it as women are. You are not just checking your breasts for lumps and bumps, you are looking for abrasions, lesions, heat, rash and skin dimpling. If you find something that you are not quite sure of, get a professional opinion. If you aren’t happy with thatopinion, go get a second opinion. That is your right.”
“The Martensville & District Kinsmen Club were proud to be involved with PWOS in support of breast cancer awareness and research funding,” Arnie Deschner said. A total of $3,500 was raised that evening.
For more information on PWOS, or to learn how you can become a rider, visit ‘Prairie Women on Snowmobiles – We Salute You!’ on Facebook.