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When Lance Armstrong spoke to ten teens last September in Toronto about the inaugural Sears National Kids Cancer ride to help children with cancer, his inspirational words made 16-year-old Andy Brooks, who is also a cancer survivor, look over at his mom and say “I want to do this”.

With those words, the Oakville Ontario teen, who was diagnosed with brain cancer as a 3-year-old, teamed up with tandem partner Peter Murk, gave up junk food and soda, played fewer video games, and began working out four hours a day to train for the 7,600-kilometre cross-Canada race. Janice Brooks initially thought her son – “a self-avowed couch potato” – would “talk himself out of it. But in actual fact, he started to train.”

Although Andy’s cancer is currently in remission, he now has severe epilepsy and is legally blind due to receiving adult doses of radiation as a child. Andy, who can see an area about the size of a dime in front of him, gets assistance from his guide dog, Boston. Andy said that meeting the seven-time Tour de France champion “inspired me to do this and just to overcome anything.”

Andy says that “Every day’s a challenge, but you get through it.” Jeff Rushton, founder and chair of Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation agrees. He describes Andy as a “force of nature.”

“He’s totally committed to doing this ride, and the interesting thing about Andy is it’s not about Andy,” says Rushton. “His point is if he can make a difference in just one person’s life, one kid with cancer, he’d be happy.”

The race, which was organized by Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation and Sears Canada, is expected to raise $1.4 million for children living with and beyond cancer. It concluded in Halifax on June 20.

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