Testimonial: Johan Devroe, volunteer

“I have always been a fervent cyclist and so I quickly hit on the idea of organising a spinning marathon: Cyclo4Cancer. The first edition brought out about 300 sports enthusiasts and together we collected 4500 euro to benefit the Foundation against Cancer. A fine result and a good motivator to do more. Under the banner of Cyclo4Cancer we started a wine sale and a quiz night, and we designed and sold cycling shirts to spread the message further, during foreign events too.

Sport against cancer

Via contacts with the Foundation against Cancer in the context of Cyclo4Cancer I heard about the Relay for Life idea. People asked me whether I wanted to organise such a thing locally; in West Flanders there was no Relay for Life yet then. I thought ‘Why not?’ I like to cycle, but I also like to run, so that was my sort of thing. Together with Lieve Maes I then threw my support behind the Kortrijk Relay for Life, and I have to say that that 24-hour race has in the meantime really become my baby. I have also found the process of getting there exceptionally enriching, an experience in itself!
When it was finally time in September… Yes, that was really the crown on our work. We had a fantastic committee of volunteers, a great programme, a lot of participating teams, many people present, and support from the Foundation and from the West Flemish Community. The warmth, the solidarity and the gratitude that you feel, the emotions you undergo at that time and later relive, it’s really indescribable. There’s a reason why a journalist from Runner’s World called the Kortrijk Relay for Life the most beautiful race in the world! And then that cheque for more than 210,000 euro! What a fantastic result.

Strong together

For me as a cancer patient there are really two things that play a part. On the one hand there is always that fear that cancer could crop up again, especially during those periodic checkups. But thanks to the events and initiatives that are organised, you know you’re not facing it alone. In addition I know that thanks to scientific cancer research, further steps are being taken year after year. The treatments there are today were not even thought possible a few years ago. By supporting research, we increase our probability of survival. It’s that ‘simple’.
What makes the volunteer work easier for me is the fact that I integrate it into what I like to do as much as possible. Sport, cycling, running, being around people. A Relay for Life is also contagious. In the meantime my wife is also active in the committee; my children participate, as well as colleagues and friends. You would be amazed how quickly you motivate people. Cancer after all touches everyone, around the world. And that sometimes leads to memorable encounters. During the second spinning marathon I got to know one of our American colleagues who had participated in Relay for Life in his student days. It’s great how such an idea becomes internationalised and we all take on the fight together.”

 

Johan Devroe, volunteer

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