Being almost seven months pregnant with her first child did little to dissuade Kelly McNabb from taking a leap this past April.
That's when the Nurse Practitioner who works in Cardiovascular and Vascular Surgery at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre decided to organize a new team to participate in a cause close to her heart – in every sense of the word.
"I have survivors of heart disease in my family and non-survivors," she says. "When I participated in this ride last year, I was riding in memory of one of my family members. That really was the initial driver."
"It really is something for everyone," says the soon-to-be-new-mom, referring to the Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart organized by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and taking place on Sunday May 31, 2015.
"Being on a bike among 10,000 people on the DVP is an experience in itself," she quips.
With her baby due on June 21, McNabb will not be able to equal or better her cycling distance of 25 kilometres from last year, however, she says, "I will be there to cheer people on from the sidelines."
Ready to ride
In just over a month, she's been able to organize a new PMCC team, comprised of nine participants, including: Ryan Alkins (Kelly's 'surrogate rider' and Neurosurgery resident), Robyn Beechey (Transplant coordinator/RN and former CVICU nurse), Laura Quinn (Pharmacist), Kathleen McDonald (Nurse Practitioner), Dr. Eric Degen (Cardiovascular Surgery hospitalist), Sharon McGonigle (Nurse Practitioner), Danielle Millar (Social Worker), Phillip Ma (Respiratory Therapist), and Anna Visscher (Nurse Practitioner currently on maternity leave). And, there's still room for new recruits!
The PMCC contingent is among six new teams taking part in the Becel Ride for Heart this year as part of a group of teams called 'Riders for Research'. Funds raised by their cycling efforts will directly support research into cardiovascular disease through the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
"I knew I wasn't going to be able to participate this year, but it's something that I want to get started at PMCC and have the involvement and engagement of as many possible," says McNabb.
"Cardiovascular disease is a huge and growing problem in our society, and we need to be more aware. This day involves awareness, as well as combines fitness and gets people outside cycling together!"
"It really is wonderful to see these staff members – many of whom witness the ravaging impact of heart disease in their jobs every day – getting involved in such a tangible and impactful way," adds Linda Flockhart, Clinical Director, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and former nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.
Riders have the option of riding 25, 50 or 75 kilometres in what McNabb describes as an "easy ride" on a primarily flat surface. "It is such a memorable day spent with many positive people all riding together for a common cause," she adds.
Funds raised by 'Riders for Research' teams will help support independent research conducted at PMCC among other cardiac programs. These include large-scale studies and landmark clinical trials.
To donate to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Riding for Research team: