CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - After traveling more than 1,200 miles from her home in Regina, Saskatchewan on Saturday, Carol Schwartz thought “hey, what’s 50 more?”
Carol, who made the trip to St. Louis with her husband Rick, participated in the 50-mile bike ride at Sunday’s Pedal the Cause event in Chesterfield. The event is held annually to raise money for cancer research, a cause that’s especially important to the Schwartz family.
Their daughter, Mandi, passed away in 2011 after a two-and-a-half year battle with leukemia.
“It would bring tears to Mandi’s eyes to know that we’re here and still supporting anything we can to help families, because that’s what she did - she helped people,” Carol said. “I know she’s happy that we’re here, representing who she was in this bike ride.”
Mandi was enrolled at Yale University and was a leader on the ice for the women’s hockey team. Her No. 17 jersey still hangs in the locker room at Yale, and her brother Jaden wears No. 17 for the St. Louis Blues in her honor.
“Every day we think of her,” Rick Schwartz said. “Every time I see her number on Jaden, or I see somebody outside running or just a smile on someone’s face… (especially) with an event like this, you can’t help but think of Mandi every single day.”
Carol trained for weeks to participate in the 50-mile ride with Team Leukemia. Her team wore Mandi’s name and No. 17 on their arm-warmers, and the St. Louis Blues created a team to support the cause that included ownership partner Donn Lux, Blues President / CEO Chris Zimmerman and Group VP Steve Chapman.
“This is incredible to have the Blues here, it’s so awesome. We hope other teams will follow suit,” said Sara Krenski, the Director of Marketing & Communications for Pedal the Cause. “A leading team in St. Louis, joining the leading cycling event, joining our leading researchers - we’re so excited to have them here and involved by leading the way and changing the course of cancer (research).”
Pedal the Cause is unique in that 100 percent of the money raised Sunday goes to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Siteman Cancer Center. The event’s sponsors, such as Edward Jones, pay for the administration costs entirely.
The event is an important one for Blues Season Ticket Holder Bill Eades, who also works at Siteman Cancer Center. Eades learned of Mandi’s condition shortly after Jaden was drafted by the Blues in 2010 and has followed it ever since.
“It was such a poignant story, and it was the cause of a lot of very incredible bone marrow drives that happened at Yale and up in Saskatechwan,” said Eades, who organized the Schwartz family’s participation Sunday. “I’ve always been impressed with Jaden and his work ethic, and I now know where he gets it from.
“I wish I could have met Mandi.”
Since her diagnosis, Mandi has helped make tremendous strides in the battle against cancer. Whether it’s events like Pedal the Cause or bone marrow drives at Yale (30 matches have been found after 4,000 registrations), it’s clear that progress is being made.
“Back home, everyone is supportive of what happened with our family, and I’m happy to contribute to things we’re doing in her name,” Carol said. “The same people that supported us throughout are stepping up to support us again. It’s wonderful.”