The Prairie Women on Snowmobiles (PWOS) have found some pretty strong support in southeast Saskatchewan in the last couple of years.
While they have had riders from the southeast in the past, it wasn’t until last year that they made an appearance in Estevan for the first time. They wrapped up the Mission 2018 ride with a dinner and a celebration hosted by the Estevan Snowmobile Club.
While their Mission 2019 ride was largely north of Highway 1 and west of Highway 11, there were three riders from southeast Saskatchewan: Brittany Fox of Lampman, and Janis Stanley and Alison Taylor of Carievale.
The latest chapter in the local support for the PWOS came Saturday, when the Estevan Snowmobile Club hosted a fundraising poker derby and cabaret, with proceeds divided between the club and the PWOS.
Seven members of the PWOS were in the southeast region for the event, including Fox, Taylor, two other riders and the PWOS’s three-person executive.
The day started with the poker derby. Participants gathered at the Estevan Archery Club’s indoor range south of the city and then embarked on a ride through the club’s trails.
Estevan Snowmobile Club president Dave Heier said they had more than 100 riders for the poker derby.
“They could ride our trails, wherever they wanted, up to Lampman, Willmar, Arcola. Some people wanted to go to the lake (Kenosee Lake). Some people went to Stoughton, too.”
People enjoyed the ride, particularly since the trails were in excellent shape and it wasn’t too cold outside. The trails had just been groomed on Thursday, creating a smooth ride in what will likely be one of the last opportunities for people to be out on the trails before the snow melts.
PWOS president Kelly Kim Rea said the organization’s members travelled just under 200 kilometres on Saturday, and they did it quite quickly.
Then people reconvened at the Estevan Exhibition Hall for the cabaret, where they enjoyed music courtesy of Method to Madness. Heier was thoroughly impressed with the band.
A silent auction and a raffle helped to boost proceeds at the cabaret.
Approximately 150 people were in attendance.
The club doesn’t have a final tally for how much money was raised, but Heier believes it will be around $5,000.
Heier said the club loves to work with members of the PWOS, and they will continue to partner with them in the future.
This year’s mission was another wonderful and moving experience, Rea said. It was cold throughout the six days from Feb. 4 to 9, and the 10 riders had to put the sleds in the trailers for three days and travel in vehicles.
“We had a group of wonderful women this year,” said Rea. “There were some days when it was -40 C, and they were out there.”
They covered just over 1,600 kilometres, and raised over $83,000 for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and the Canadian Cancer Society. That money will be allocated during their annual general meeting in May.
“We sit down with a list of researchers (for the cancer society), and we actually pick who we’re going to give that money to,” Rea said. “Every single penny we raise goes to that researcher. There’s no admin fees. The Canadian Cancer Society has teamed up with us, and they don’t charge us.”
With the money for Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, the cancer clinics of Saskatchewan give them a wish list of the equipment they need.
More than $2.5 million has been raised for the cancer society, and about $363,000 for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.
This year’s mission took the PWOS to many communities they haven’t been to before, and others they haven’t been to in 10-15 years, which allowed them to meet new people.
Rea was particularly pleased to have three riders from the southeast. She attributed it, in part, to their visit a year ago.
“They heard about us, they thought it was pretty neat, and they jumped on board. So going to communities we haven’t been to in a while, and getting people to see us again and say – ‘Hey I want to give that a go’ – it gets some fresh blood in,” said Rea.
It also builds awareness of the PWOS, because as the members are doing their fundraising in the southeast, people want to know more about the organization and what they do.
Taylor has already applied to ride next year, which will be the 20th anniversary edition.
Reunion events like the one in Estevan are pretty common for the PWOS, although Estevan marked the first time they have been able to get together for a ride since the mission.
“Every team does something together, because you really do become a family,” she said. “Each team does their own thing. They usually do ride together after the ride, or go to a central poker derby.”
But the ride in Estevan was a long way to travel, as one person drove from Emma Lake.
The PWOS promote a message that the best chance of surviving breast cancer is early detection. It’s one they also share with men, because while breast cancer in men is rare, it can still happen.
“They can get breast cancers just as devastating,” said Rea.
Volunteers are also a big part of their success, not just the riders, but the technical support who travel with them, and the communities where they stop.
Estevan has become a special community for Rea. She thought the club did a great job of hosting the windup last year, and she hopes the partnership with the local snowmobile club can continue.
“We all have fun with these ladies. We all have two things in common. We all love snowmobiling and we all believe in finding a cure. So anything we do together is fun, and it’s all about bringing the awareness.”
“Hopefully one day, really, really soon, we’ll have a cure, and we won’t be needed any more, and then we’ll come down to Estevan just for fun,” she added later.