This year marks a milestone for the Prairie Women on Snowmobiles (PWOS) – 20 years of riding their sleds throughout Saskatchewan in an effort to raise money for the fight against cancer.
For the second straight year, a Carievale woman is going to be part of that ride.
Alison Taylor was selected to be one of the core riders for Mission 2020, which will open Feb. 2 in Humboldt and criss-cross central Saskatchewan for six days, raising funds for the fight against cancer, showing support for cancer survivors and creating plenty of emotional moments.
“When I first started doing this, it was because of the people that it is affecting. There’s not a lot we can do as family. You hold their hands, and you’re with them, but to do a little bit more is to find that cure, and I think that’s just the priority,” Taylor told Lifestyles.
The Mission allows riders to reach out to different communities and bring awareness about the fight against cancer to people who don’t know how they can be affected by the disease. It also offers insight into how they can help.
Nightly stops will be in Star City Feb. 2, Weekes Feb. 3, Wynyard Feb. 4, Moose Jaw Feb. 5, Outlook Feb. 6 and Warman on Feb. 7 to wrap up the marathon six-day tour. Along the way, they will stop in communities of all sizes, honouring cancer survivors, speaking before crowds and participating in fundraisers.
None of the communities were on last year’s tour.
“I’ve been watching the snowmobile trail groom (website), where it shows which trails are groomed, and they do have a little bit groomed there, so they’re grooming the trails, they have enough snow to do that. Everywhere needs a good dump of snow, and I think even the farmers might need some snow.”
Last year she was part of the ride with her best friend, fellow Carievale-area resident Janis Stanley. It was a great experience, and when Taylor found out there were plans to have former riders brought back for the 20th Mission, she knew she wanted to be involved.
She hopes to see more snow on the ground this year, so that they can ride every day. Taylor is also optimistic the temperatures will be more co-operative. An extreme cold advisory was issued for much of last year`s mission.
“We were hitting -30 and below last year. It looks like the temperatures are dropping towards the end of the month, but hopefully it’s not as bad as it was last year.”
She has only been able to put on about 50 kilometres on her snowmobile this year.
“We rode the other day, and I was pretty sore after the ride,” said Taylor. “We’re hoping that we get snow, and we’ll be able to ride all six days of our trip.”
Her husband will also be part of the ride as a member of the pit crew. He will alternate between driving a semi that is on the journey, and riding a snowmobile behind the core members.
Taylor has raised $10,388 for Mission 2020, easily surpassing the $3,000 requirement for core members. She raised money through an online birthday fundraiser, a crab apple jelly sale, an elimination draw, a 31 bags fundraiser and a cooler raffle.
The big one, though, was the second annual Boob-B-Q supper in Carievale, which raised more than $5,000 in late November.
“We had a great turnout. We had tonnes of items for silent draws. We had a great meal,” said Taylor.
Kelly Kim Rea, who is the president of the Prairie Women, was the guest speaker. She explained what the organization does and how they support the fight against cancer.
One final fundraiser remains for the core riders. Taylor made some cups with the PWOS logo and the 20th anniversary emblem.
Before embarking on the ride, Taylor will have to pack everything she needs. Efficiency is a must, because all of those items have to be lugged around during the tour. She’ll also have to work on her speech for when she talks at the different venues, add some more miles on her snowmobile, and spend time interacting with the other riders so that they`re well acquainted before they leave.
“We talk about what we’re going to pack and what the new girls need, and just some of the tips that we learned along the way last year.”
Taylor is one of two riders back from Mission 2019. Six others were on previous rides. Two are new.
She is looking forward to getting to know the other riders.
“When we go on these rides, the whole team becomes family. You stay connected,” said Taylor. “You know their trials and tribulations, and why they’re doing this ride. It all comes from a deep need to cure cancer.”
The PWOS has been to about 420 different communities in its 20-year history, and has had nearly 200 different riders. There have been many volunteers along the way, and cancer survivors who have received encouragement through the PWOS.