Who does Team KPMG Tour For?

Team KPMG is passionate about the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer. Through the Tour, Employees at KPMG have raised over $ 827,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation in the last 12 years. Team KPMG started small with only a handful of riders, and with the support of dedicated captains and members, the team has grown substantially to well over 50 people. Today, Team KPMG is led by co-captains Chris Marra and Curtis Lester.

Chris Marra is an Enterprise Partner at KPMG in Calgary. The father of two (and one on the way) is originally from Victoria, BC but considers Calgary home now. His first introduction to the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer (formerly known as the Alberta Ride to Conquer cancer) was in 2009 when he participated in the BC Ride to Conquer cancer. A couple of years after moving to Calgary, Chris learned about how involved KPMG Alberta is in the Tour and decided to join a couple of friends and participate in his first Alberta ride in 2011.

“I trained for the Tour but didn’t realize how hard it was to cycle in the Prairies. Everyone thinks the Prairies is flat. It is not flat. I remember the 2011 Ride, and it was a beautiful Saturday, unbelievably gorgeous. However, the next day we woke up to a torrential downpour, and I was suffocating for 90 kilometres because I couldn’t breathe in the rain, but soon after, it cleared up and got better. That was my first Alberta ride, and I have done every other Tour since then,” says Chris.

This year will be his eighth time participating in the Tour. He has been the team KPMG captain for the last three years and is excited to carry forward the foundation set by former members. For Curtis Lester, co-captain of Team KPMG and the KPMG Tax Practice leader in Calgary, this will be his fifth year participating.

Curtis finds the inspiration and motivation to take on the cycling challenge simply because he is part of such an important cause. “Cancer has been around my entire lifetime, and I have seen far too many leave us too soon due to this disease. With our support, there have been incredible advancements in cancer research and treatment of patients. I would love to see a cure for cancer in my lifetime. The movement of the people and strength in numbers is what keeps me coming back. It’s nice to see what we can accomplish when we work together for a common goal,” he says.

A personal connection to cancer is also what motivated Chris year after year. His father and some of his friends have been affected by cancer. More recently, his mother-in-law was re-diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

“I picture myself in their shoes, and it reinforces the purpose for me. The Tour represents the ability to connect with what those facing cancer are going through and validate their struggle. It symbolizes that we are there to support them in whatever way we can, and that’s why I have always really connected with it,” he says.

Curtis will be taking part in the Tour Alberta this year in Vancouver, as he helps his daughter move to university. He will be joined by his 14 year old son, Julian, who has been riding with him for four years now and likes to challenge dad to keep up.

Gearing up for the Tour

When asked if he has any tips for first-time participants, Curtis notes the importance of stretching before and after cycling. “It makes a massive difference for recovery. Basic bike maintenance is also key (e.g. bike is in good working order, tires are aired up, chain is lubed, and the frame is nice and shiny). Lastly, safety first and try to stay off of busy roads or at least avoid rush hour. Helmets and front and taillights are essential in my view,” he says.

Chris suggests that if people want to experiment for the first time and maximize the number of kilometres they cover, they should consider riding in the hills as much as they can. In Calgary, he suggests the Northwest area, “The Bears paw and Cochrane area have plenty of excellent routes that beginners can cycle on which will allow you to get acquainted with the foothills of the city,” he says.

Starting a Team

For those thinking of starting a team for the Tour, Chris advises to start small and build from there.

“It helps to start with one or two more people and getting the word out. If you are looking to inspire your family, friends or colleagues to join your team, it’s important to highlight that this is a Tour, not a race. I think everybody thinks that it’s a race, but it’s not. It is about connecting with the journey that other people are on and helping support people with cancer and their families by fundraising,” notes Chris.

Chris believes that Team KPMG’s inclusivity played a big part in the growth of their team over the years.

“Here at KPMG, we haven’t limited the team to just our friends, family, colleagues, or our clients. We have always brought other people in who share and understand what the purpose of the Tour is. You don’t just have to be an employee of KPMG to be part of the team,” he says.

On August 28th, Team KPMG plans to carry out a virtual experiment and divide the sub-teams into multiple courses throughout Calgary. They are diligent about their team members and want them to make it a personalized experience based on their fitness levels. Their main goal is to focus on getting out there and bring people together rather than placing importance on how many kilometres they cover.

“We plan to make the Tour accessible for everyone based on their fitness abilities. This year is a great opportunity to get out and test that,” notes Chris.

For smaller teams, he suggests collaborating with the big teams when it comes to training:

“If you are a small team, we are happy to have you come out and train with us at any point in time. As teams, we are always there to support and help people along the way,” says Chris.

“We are just excited to get out there and support those who are going through cancer because their journey has never stopped. I’m also excited about the new brand and wearing the new jersey this year,” notes Chris.

Chris signs off on a hopeful note while reinstating the value of donating. “From a donor’s perspective, the best way to do it is to get out and support people. You never know when you’re going to find yourself in need. Who knows how that donation might one day impact you or a family member? Every little bit helps. So please donate as much as you can to the cause or any team you would like to support.”

We thank Chris, Curtis and team KPMG for their constant support and contribution to the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer. Thank you for going the distance on the Tour and in the cancer centres.

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Who does Team Tundra Tour For?

Team captains Blaine Barnes and Ashlee Upton share why Team Tundra gives back to Albertans facing cancer.

Blaine Barnes has been with Tundra Process Solutions for almost 20 years. In that time, he got to witness the journey and evolution of the company and recalls how when the opportunity came to support the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer (formerly known as the Enbridge Alberta Ride to Conquer cancer), there was no hesitation on their part as it aligned with their core values as an organization – of giving back to the community.

Blaine BarnesAshlee Upton

Blaine started Team Tundra in 2016.

“There were only four of us riding the first year, but even then we’ve always had additional support from staff. If you’ve done the ride before, you’ve probably seen or heard some of our trucks, decorated with a ton of spirit, or loudly pumping music out of speakers in the box as they drive alongside you on the route,” he says.

Ashlee Upton, Client Liaison & Sales Support Lead at Tundra, takes pride in being a part of an organization that comes together for the greater community. “The culture at Tundra Process Solutions truly raises the bar. We are a strong group of individuals who thrive off our connections and genuinely enjoy doing things together. Because of this, the team organically created itself and has been evolving ever since!” she says.

Why Tour?

Ashlee will be riding in the memory of her Uncle Gary, who passed away in 2018 from pancreatic cancer. “Tour Alberta in and of itself is an incredibly inspiring fundraiser. Just looking at photos from years past, I cannot help but get emotional. The energy and love that resonates from this event are above any I have ever seen and has fueled my desire to participate and get pedalling finally,” mentions Ashlee.

Uncle Gary

A personal connection to cancer also motivated Blaine to start team Tundra and continue supporting the event every year. “Cancer has affected us all in one way, shape, or form. I lost grandparents, an uncle, and Tundra teammates to cancer. I’ve also been fortunate to see family members and friends fight it and beat it. But I’ve also watched friends and teammates lose loved ones to cancer. It sucks, and it’s heartbreaking. The Tour is just a great way to give back because it’s helping the people and the communities that we serve every day. It’s also helping our friends, our families and our team. It might be cancer research, or it could be one of the community cancer centres in rural areas, but we know that what we make a difference right here in Alberta,” says Blaine.

Starting a Team

Both Ashlee and Blaine’s advice for those looking to start a Tour team with their friends or colleagues is to get out there and start.

“Get the ball rolling, be the advocate of inspiration, and people will join – sometimes a first voice is all that is required to generate involvement!” notes Ashlee.

“Just sign up. And then ask others to sign up with you. But don’t procrastinate. Taking the first step and signing up is a great way to kick things off. If you don’t have a bike, no problem. Sign up and find one later. If you don’t feel like you’re in good enough shape to do the ride, no problem. Sign up and start practicing and doing training rides. And when it comes to fundraising, just ask. Just reach out to your network and ask. So many people are so hesitant or nervous about asking for help – and you shouldn’t be – because it’s for an amazing cause, an amazing organization, and will produce amazing results right here at home,” says Blaine.

Gearing Up

This year, Team Tundra will cycle along the Foothills in Calgary, “We love the scenery and the challenge of some of those hills. We’re planning on a ride that’s at least 80 kilometres in length,” says Blaine.

This year will be Ashlee’s first time participating in the Tour. “I am one of the folks taking on this challenge for the first time, and to be honest, I am going full tortoise; slow and steady. I purchased my first road bike and have been touring my community and local parks as often as possible when it is not 30+ degrees outside. I am just going full gusto with kindness in my heart and a goal of making it to the end no matter how long it takes me!”

“As a first-time rider, I am following in the footsteps – or should I say cycle tread marks – of all the incredible participants on my team who have the experience and route knowledge that I lack. I am excited to get out there and show that route who’s the boss!” says Ashlee.

Blaine encourages first-time riders to train at their own pace and gradually build up their distance over time. “The Tour is not a race. Riding a bike is all about enjoying the scenery, enjoying the challenge of a good hill climb, and the feeling of cruising down a hill after you just climbed for too long. Make sure your bike is set up properly. Then go out and enjoy the ride,” he says.

Blain and Ashlee are grateful to everyone involved in making the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer a success.

“Getting the Tour Alberta up and running was no small feat. Due to the events of the past year, the Alberta Cancer Foundation had to find a way to make this happen, and they did. I want to give a huge shout-out to all the people behind the scenes who are making this Tour a reality. It takes a huge effort to create something this big, so a big thanks to everyone involved – whether you’re on a bike or not,” says Blaine.

“My gratitude to all those involved with The Tour, from conception to ongoing components that keep this fundraiser alive. To everyone fighting for themselves or fighting in the name of others, I commend you,” notes Ashlee.

We thank Ashlee and Team Tundra for their constant support and contribution to the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer. Thank you for supporting cancer research and care delivered by Albertans for Albertans.

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Ben Tsui

Ben Tsui has been a participant of the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer (formerly known as the Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer) since 2018. However, Ben has been helping his corporate team behind-the-scenes since 2016. This year, he is excited about the rebranding and hopes to carry forward the same excitement and energy, while making this tradition a uniquely-Alberta event.

Ben has three different groups that inspire him to keep coming back, continue cycling and fundraising for the Tour:

“ I tour for my Mom, my Mother-in-law, and other family and friends who have fought cancer and won, so I tour for the survivors. I have also lost family and dear friends who succumbed to their battle with cancer, so I ride for those who are no longer with us. Finally, I selfishly ride for me, and the reminder of how lucky I am to also be a survivor, and a “poster boy” for the benefits of early detection and action,” recalls Ben.

He was diagnosed with a tumor in his parotid (salivary) gland. Ben stresses the importance of self-detection while scheduling early detection as he found a lump while shaving and a needle biopsy confirmed his doubts.

“While surgical removal was the “right” course of action, it was deemed risky due to how close some facial nerves were, and there was a caution of some facial paralysis being a possibility. Thankfully, I had a very gifted surgeon who was able to remove the tumor without impacting any of the nerves in that area,” remembers Ben.

He appreciates his cancer care team at the Tom Baker Cancer Center, who diligently scheduled his regular team consultations and yearly check-ups, which allowed Ben to proudly carry the “survivor” badge and resume his life once again. His now largely faded scars are a visual reminder of this and how far he has come in his cancer journey.

Ben plans to tour on August 28th by riding along the Bow Valley pathway (Highway 1), if the weather permits.

“It is a glorious stretch of road and should be on every cyclist’s must-do list. Last year, I rode from Canmore to Lake Louise and back for an Imperial Century (100 miles, or 160 km), and would like to do that again,” reminisces Ben while talking about his previous year’s Tour experience.

He is a year-round cyclist and a cycle commuter, a promise Ben made to himself as a means to be more healthy post his cancer treatment. For those new to the challenge, he recommends two things:

“ Get in the saddle time as your backside needs more training than any other part of your body if you’re riding a long distance, and regardless of the distance you chose, break it up into smaller pieces (e.g. for a 100km ride, think of it as four 25km rides with a nice break in between each),” notes Ben.

For the past three years (2018-2020), Ben has raised about $20,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation by participating in the Tour Alberta event.

His advice for those fundraising for the first time this year is to “be genuine,” as he believes that one must have a reason to participate in the rides while asking for support.

“Also, don’t be afraid to “just ask.” I’ve been surprised how many great conversations I’ve had, or new friendships I’ve started, all because someone else had a personal connection to cancer,” says Ben.

He entrusts the Alberta Cancer Foundation to make use of his donations in the best possible way.

“I’ve typically let the Foundation help advice where the need is the greatest. If that’s spreading it around evenly, that’s great. If it needs to be weighted in one particular category for a given year, that’s OK too,” Ben signs off.

We thank Ben for his constant support and contribution to the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer. Thank you for going the distance on the tour and in the cancer centres.


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