Cyclists inspired by late teacher

Okotoks: Good Shepherd School team rides for Courtney Anderson

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 09:38 am

Team Courtney, consisting of staff members from Good Shepherd School raised close to $22,000 in completing the 200km Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. They are, top row, from left, Robert Johnson, Terri Roman, Greg Gibbs, Tina Lewis, Danielle MacWhirter and Matthew New. Kneeling are Lonny and Karen Anderson.
Team Courtney, consisting of staff members from Good Shepherd School raised close to $22,000 in completing the 200km Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. They are, top row, from left, Robert Johnson, Terri Roman, Greg Gibbs, Tina Lewis, Danielle MacWhirter and Matthew New. Kneeling are Lonny and Karen Anderson.
BRUCE CAMPBELL/OWW

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An Okotoks teacher kept hearing words of encouragement whenever he started to tire on his 200km bike ride on the weekend.

“I kept hearing Courtney’s voice saying: ‘just give’er, keep going — go the whole way,” said Greg Gibbs, a teacher at Good Shepherd School.

Gibbs was one of six Good Shepherd School staff members who rode for Team Courtney at the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer Saturday and Sunday.

Courtney is Courtney Anderson, a Grade 3 teacher at the school who was killed in a vehicle accident in February at the age of 24.

The seven riders on Team Courtney were one of the more than 1,800 cyclists who rode in the two-day event, which consisted of a 100km ride from Canada Olympic Park to the reception centre in Okotoks behind the Pason Community Arena on Saturday.

After an overnight stay in Okotoks they rode back to COP on Sunday.

“I think everybody enjoyed being out there today and just being part of this whole community,” Gibbs said at the finish reception on Saturday. “This is my third year with the ride and with what happened with Courtney, I said I would only do it if we had a team that was with me.

“So these other brave people were willing to do it with me.”

Anderson loved the ride.

She did the Ride to Conquer Cancer ride in Ontario five times after surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2007. At one of the rides she was chosen for the bike walk because she was the youngest rider participating.

Team Courtney had a pair of hearty cheerleaders. Courtney’s mom, Karen, and dad, Lonny flew out from Mississauga, Ont. to support the squad.

“We wanted to support everything that this group has done,” Lonny said. “They have been wonderful for this whole thing.

“Courtney told us to come. She told us ‘Mom and dad you got to sell your house in Ontario and move to Okotoks. You belong here…’ We’re starting to believe her.”

There was no way fellow Grade 3 teacher at Good Shepherd School Danielle MacWhirter was going to miss the ride.

“I had known she had done the ride many times, but I didn’t know she was a cancer survivor until after she died,” MacWhirter said. “She was a runner, a biker, she was really an inspiration to us.”

The six members from Good Shepherd on Team Courtney were Matt New, MacWhirter, Tina Lewis, Terri Roman, Gibbs and Claire Comtois. The Andersons’ family friend Robert Johnson from Edmonton also participated. Team Courtney raised approximately $22,000 for cancer research.

A large portion of those funds came from the student body at the K-Grade 6 school.

The students contributed close to $700 to the total.

The ride raised approximately $7.9 million for cancer research.

For more information got to www.conquercancer.ca.


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