Rider Stories

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Alexandre was born on September 8, 1987 in Rosemère.
When Alexandre Bilodeau flew down the moguls during his last race of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he had already made his mark in the skiing world. When he became the first ever Canadian to win a gold medal on home soil, he instantly captured an entire nation’s heart. From coast to coast, his exploit elicited passion and pride. On his journey, he learned that determination and courage were the key to earning this medal, and it was his brother Frédéric, who suffers from cerebral palsy, who taught him that valuable lesson.
In February 2014, he took part of the Sotchi Olympic games, his last ones, where he successfully defended his Olympic title. He became the first Canadian double Olympic champion in moguls’ freestyle skiing. The 2013-2014 season was his last one. Alexandre take on new challenges by completing a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University.

Since his big win, Alexandre has become an ambassador to many brands. He also supports many causes and has hit the conference circuit as a keynote speaker, sharing his Olympic journey and the values that led him to the pinnacle of his sport.

Career Highlights

  • Olympic Champion 2010 (Vancouver) & 2014 (Sochi)
  • First Canadian double Olympic champion in moguls’ freestyle skiing
  • Three-time Olympian
  • 2009, 2011 & 2013 World Champion Dual Moguls
  • 2009 FIS Crystal Globe winner Moguls and Overall
  • 19 World Cup Gold medals
  • 48 World Cup podiums

Olympic Medalist | Three-Time World Champion

Alexandre Despatie is a Canadian diving sensation. A two-time Olympic medalist and the only diver to have been world champion in three World Championship categories, he is also the holder of 42 Canadian national titles. But his illustrious career was not only defined by success. Just prior to the 2012 Olympic Games, Alexandre suffered a horrific head injury as a result of hitting the dive board during training. Making a remarkable comeback, he went on to compete in the Games, becoming an even bigger Canadian hero. Formerly a co-host of Breakfast Television Montreal, the fully-bilingual Alexandre imparts his talks with the lessons he learned from the highs and lows of sport, along with his broadcaster know-how, to make all of his appearances inspirational and impactful.

Alexandre first captured gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games when he was just 13 years old. That stunning victory made him the youngest gold medal winner ever in the history of the Commonwealth Games, and earned him a spot in the 2000 Guinness Book of World Records.

Alexandre went on to win a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, where he was the first male Canadian in history to have won a diving medal. He then took two gold medals at FINA competitions in 2005, three gold medals and one bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and one gold and two bronze medals at the 2007 Pan American Games. He then won his second silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Alexandre is also a five-time winner of the Canadian Sport Awards as Junior Male Athlete of the Year (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003), and a two-time winner of the Aquatic Federation of Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year Award (2001, 2002 and 2003).

Benoît was born with a disability in his right leg known as clubfoot. He started swimming at 8 years old and became, in the last 2 decades, one of Canada’s most decorated Paralympic athletes with 20 medals in five Paralympic Games.

Member of the Canadian national from 1998 to 2018, he won 32 medals in six World Championships, lowering more than 60 world records in his category.

Benoît is always involved in various causes involving youth, healthy living, physical activity and sport. He is an ambassador for Right to Play and Jumpstart Foundation.
Member of the Order of Canada and Knight of the Order of Quebec, his biggest dreams are to help our youth by inspiring them to look beyond their own boundaries and motivate anyone who aims to realize their dreams. He does it well by sharing his passion for life.

Denis Coderre, Ambassador, Jewish General Hospital Foundation and Co-captain of Team Fondation de l’HGJ, joins The Ride for the first time this year. Dedicated and determined, he has transformed his lifestyle to get in physical shape in preparation to take on the challenge and ride to provide expert care in a compassionate manner. He says it’s about the challenge and fun but it’s also about the message and cause.

“As an Ambassador, I represent an incredible institution, ranked fourth in a top 10 list of the best health centres in Canada. The Jewish General Hospital is a place of dignity, respect for people, diversity, inclusivity and generosity – values that reflect the hospital as well as the larger Montreal community. I believe that as residents of the city, we are responsible for taking care of each other and through The Ride, we are supporting those who are affected by cancer in our province.”

Denis leads a team of staff from the Foundation and hospital with their family and friends. Everyone on the team understands the important work being done at the JGH and participate in The Ride to support their colleagues. The Ride is grateful to Denis for co-leading the team to success this year!

Diane Mailhot will be leading her team, Les Bécanes de l’Espoir, for the 7th time in the 2019 Ride to Conquer Cancer. She has always been passionate about living an active life, but it was not until her son Olivier was diagnosed that she decided to put that time and passion in preparing and fundraising for The Ride.

Olivier was officially diagnosed with brain cancer on January 13, 2012, as Diane vividly recalls. She says, the moment her 21-year-old son learned he had a grade 4 brain tumour, she knew life was about to change for her family. Olivier courageously underwent 20 intensive radiotherapy sessions and two major surgeries, which lasted over 15 hours. In total, he endured 54 sessions of chemotherapy — completing his treatment successfully in 2013.

For Diane, contributing to the advancements of cancer research and treatment are a priority. She has attended many of the tours organized by the Jewish General Hospital.  In fact, that is what motivates her to Ride year after year. Regarding The Ride, she says “…you never run out of reasons to Ride. There is always someone you love who is battling cancer and my struggle to ride and fundraise is nothing in comparison to what they go through.” Diane was amazed by the devotion and professionalism of her son’s medical team during  treatment, and continues to ride for a cancer free future for her friends, families and anyone else affected by it.

Nathalie lives an active life. As a gym teacher, fitness and health are a priority for her. She walks about five kilometres per day with her three chihuahuas who she considers her mini-trainers. Nathalie maintains this lifestyle even while undergoing chemotherapy treatment. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2018 and will continue treatment until April of 2019.  Once Nathalie finishes her treatments, she is determined to then start focusing on training for The Ride.

Nathalie has felt the effects of cancer since she was a child. Her family has a gene for hormonal cancer and she has seen about 18 individuals close to her battle the disease. Many have lost their lives. She makes it her mission to stay positive and active no matter what obstacles come her way.

Although her treatments leave her feeling exhausted and weak, Nathalie has experienced exceptional care and support from her healthcare team. She believes it’s important to improve the work they do by fundraising and advancing cancer research and treatment.

Nathalie will be riding in the Enbridge® Ride to Conquer Cancer® with her best friend, who is also named Nathalie. The two have been friends they were eight-years-old, and they are asking their friends and family to support their fundraising goal this year.

Rider, Daniel Opoku faced his own cancer journey and was committed to The Ride in order to give back to the Jewish General Hospital for the exceptional treatment and care he received. Daniel passed away in the winter of 2019 after a long battle with neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer, but his legacy lives on through The Ride and he inspires his team to continue paying it forward.

In 2017, Daniel shared why he decided to Ride and what ultimately motivated him to come back year after year.

“I’m committed because the Segal Cancer Centre and the Jewish General Hospital have positively impacted me.

Not only do I have a personal connection to The Ride, but I also know many people who work at the centres and can see firsthand the great things they are doing there to conquer cancer.

I know all of this because I’m a patient there.

I was diagnosed in 2011 with neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer, a disease that will impact me for the duration of my life. That’s the best way to sum it up. I’ve had major surgery, chemotherapy and medical procedures to treat the cancer, but the treatment plan will only continue.

When I hear the phrase “Epic Impact,” I think of the impact that the Segal Cancer Centre has had on my life, and I am compelled to give back. Participating in The Ride to Conquer Cancer is my way of saying thank you to the very people who continue to help me…”

Strength in numbers.

It’s how we make an impact for cancer patients and their families across Quebec, and it’s why Fred is teaming up for The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

My wife, Patricia, was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2010. We were devastated by the news, but knew we could overcome this horrible disease. Patricia had an operation, and to our relief the surgery was a success. She was declared cancer-free. While Patricia is a survivor, not everyone in my life has been so fortunate.

In 2014, my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer. The cancer was already stage IV, and after a yearlong battle, my sister’s life was cut too short. She passed away in 2015, and her passing has left a lasting impression on me ever since. And it is in her memory and in support of Patricia that I ride.

I first heard about The Ride and was recruited to join Team Immune Force One because of my daughter-in-law, Dr. Nathalie Johnson, a lymphoma cancer researcher at the Jewish General Hospital. I look forward to experiencing the camaraderie on The Ride and cycling alongside others who have been touched by this disease.

The team is made up of diverse individuals, and we all come from unique walks of life. I myself am a 74-year-old triathlete living in Mont-Tremblant, father to three and a grandfather to six grandchildren. While I am not the youngest cyclist on the team, there is one desire I have that connects me with every other member of the team.

Together, we want to conquer cancer.

A Montreal resident, Imran Qureshi rides for the thousands of Canadians affected by cancer. Over eight years, Imran has raised over $115,000 for cancer research. This year, he was diagnosed with liver cancer but is now cancer-free.

In his own words, this cancer survivor and Rider shares his cancer care experience at the Jewish General Hospital.

Who in your family received treatment at the Jewish General Hospital?

I counted myself as lucky that my family members and I were healthy and cancer-free. That was until the spring of 2016. Earlier this year, my doctor found a suspicious mass on my kidney. Prior to my diagnosis, I found myself in the Jewish General Hospital’s emergency room in grueling pain. Once diagnosed with kidney cancer, surgery and a smooth recovery followed.

Can you describe how you reacted to your cancer diagnosis?

I took action. In 2016, I participated in The Ride to Conquer Cancer, fuelled by my own cancer journey, as well as those struggling with the disease in my community and beyond. This year, I rode to commemorate my short and successful journey with cancer. It was a momentous feeling crossing the finish line with this in mind.

Beyond the cancer care you received, what was it like at JGH?

From the day I first set foot in the Jewish General Hospital to the day I was deemed cancer-free, I was tended to by attentive and caring staff. Medical professionals always spoke to me with such compassion; this hospital is staffed by some of the most authentic people.

Would you recommend the Jewish General Hospital and The Ride to Conquer Cancer to others seeking to make a significant impact?

No questions asked. I am proud that over eight years, I have raised over $115,000. I count myself as truly lucky to have such a great network of supporters and donors. My success in gaining donations is not to simply ask for funds but to explain the purpose of The Ride and where the funds are being used. It tells people that we are not simply asking for money, but asking them for help.

Phil Anzarut knows that it takes the dedication of many to make an impact in the fight to conquer cancer.

That’s why Phil has not only signed up for The Ride, but also recruited dozens of people to join him on Team Bikus Urachus. He shares why he remains committed to The Ride year after year and how the local community’s support can help in putting an end to this disease.

I was diagnosed with cancer of the urachus in February 2012…

I lost my hair and my energy, but I started biking again that July and signed up for The 2013 Enbridge® Ride to Conquer Cancer® benefiting the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital soon after.

In 2013, following my recovery from chemotherapy, my friends and I created the Bikus Urachus team in The Ride… For the last four years, Bikus Urachus has been the number one community fundraising team for The Ride.

We’re recruiting more participants to join our team and asking members from the community to support our journey in any they can. A small donation and any type of commitment go a long way. 

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