Kim Hladun of Canora has been selected as one of 10 core riders for the PWOS (Prairie Women on Snowmobiles) Mission 2020.
“I am truly honored to have been chosen for the second year in a row as one of the core riders,” said Hladun.
Hladun and her husband Stan have two adult sons, Skyler and Justin. She has been employed at CJES since 1999, first as an educational assistant and for the past eight years as an administrative assistant.
She said her interest in snowmobiling started as she was growing up on the family farm when her Dad bought Hladun and her brother a snowmobile after a successful harvest. After she got married, she and her husband have continued to enjoy the sport with their family.
“Over the years my family and I have been on many memorable snowmobile journeys,” said Hladun. “We have booked a cabin on a few occasions in the Prince Albert area over the Christmas holidays and enjoyed fishing, riding the trails, wiener roasts and a game or two of canasta in the evenings. It is a great way to meet like-minded people and enjoy the great outdoors.”
For the 2020 Mission, Hladun said she is once again riding in memory of her mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2016, as well as another family member who is living with “the horrible disease.
“This year I am also riding for the many warriors that I met along the way during last year’s ride as well as anyone who has been diagnosed since,” she said. “You are never alone on your fight!”
PWOS has one main mission, to find a cure for breast cancer. The group was formed when two friends, one a breast cancer survivor, asked her friend to snowmobile across Saskatchewan to raise funds for breast cancer research, said information provided by the group. Together the two planned, organized and implemented PWOS. The goal since inception is to have this Mission go across Saskatchewan each and every year to raise funds for breast cancer research.
PWOS is a non-profit organization. Its annual Missions are awareness events designed to focus attention on breast cancer research and the recreation of snowmobiling, said the information. The group’s goals and objectives are to promote breast cancer awareness, support the Canadian Cancer Society, and highlight the recreation of snowmobiling and its tremendous economic impact and winter tourism potential. Volunteerism is the whole picture of PWOS women dedicating their time, resources, and sleds to help make the Missions so successful.
Each Mission consists of a group of 10 volunteer snowmobilers who travel across Saskatchewan, passing through many cities and towns in six days and covering approximately 1,400 kms.
In addition to finding a cure for breast cancer PWOS also stresses the importance of early detection, self breast examinations (in women and men, because yes, men too can get breast cancer) as well as safe snowmobiling.
Hladun said it didn’t take long for her to decide she wanted a second opportunity to be a core rider.
“Within a week of returning from last year’s ride I submitted my application, knowing that I wanted to be a part of the 20th Anniversary ride if I was fortunate enough to be chosen,” she said. “My family and friends have been very supportive in my decision to ride once again and will be there to help out when needed.”
Hladun said Shawna Leson, one of the other core riders for Mission 2019, was instrumental in getting her involved.
“Shawna encouraged me to apply last year and sent me the necessary information,” said Hladun. “For anyone who enjoys snowmobiling, working towards a cause and helping others, this is one project that will give you huge satisfaction to be a part of it. Anyone who asks what the experience was like, I tell them it is definitely worth it and it is definitely a life changing experience. You don't want to look back on your life and say, “I wish I had ridden.” You will be happy to say, “I'm so glad I did!’”
The 10 core riders have a number of responsibilities leading up to and during the event.
“We are each expected to raise $3,000 in paid donations by the beginning of December, attend meetings and work a shift at the Snow Show Days at the beginning of November in Saskatoon,” said Hladun. “During the ride we participate in a "Pinning Ceremony " at our noon or evening stops to recognize any breast cancer survivors that come forward.”
There were a number of highlights that made the 2019 Mission truly memorable for Hladun.
“We received an RCMP escort into one of the communities,” she recalled. “There was a group of teenagers at Duck Lake holding a sign, "We're Part of the Fight." On the last day of our trip we did an unplanned detour into Rosthern by our entire crew, waving and honking to show support and let a woman in the midst of her cancer journey know that she is not alone. To see her face, wave and give her the thumbs up brought tears to my eyes in my helmet knowing we had made her day just a little bit brighter.
“Our executive also dropped off a Comfort Quilt for her to use during her battle. Along with the quilt is a journal written in by other cancer fighters sharing their experience and words of encouragement. Every year the hope is to increase the number of quilts available to lend out to those in need.
“One of the many wonderful people I met last year was a lot like my mother. We enjoyed a good visit over soup and sandwiches. We told each other things about our lives and families, and before we left she made sure to pack up a bunch of goodies in case I got hungry along the way. We have kept in touch since.”
Hladun said she feels fortunate to have some experience heading into the 2020 ride.
“Last year I was fearing the unknown,” she admitted. “One of the hardest parts for me was reading my biography at the events. This year will be tough as well, but I'm hoping that my past experience will make it a bit easier. The ladies are all great at supporting each other when times get tough during our speeches.”
“Ten ladies who are the core riders, plus the executive and pit crew come together at the beginning of the ride as strangers and leave as family/friends. We spent the majority of our waking hours as a group so we get to know each other very well.”
The route for the 1,400 km, six-day ride has been tentatively set. The kick-off banquet is scheduled tor Humboldt on February 1, and the finale on February 7 in Warman.
For the next several months, a great deal of Hladun’s time will be focused on fundraising efforts.
“I currently have a fundraiser at the Canora SARCAN which runs until November 25 where you can donate your recycling and choose for the money to go towards the purchase of equipment for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agencies or towards Cancer Research,” she explained.
“I sold perennials earlier in the year and accepted donations towards the ride. Recently I made and sold raspberry jam/jelly and I still have some available if anyone is interested.
“I have a few other fundraisers in the works in the very near future. One will be a raffle which will include a few autographed Saskatchewan Roughrider items, as well as a beautiful pine cooler on a stand which I'm hoping to have filled with donated refreshments and/or snacks. I am also considering a fundraising supper and will more than likely sell squares again this year as well.”
Hladun said she is looking forward to being part of the ride once again, especially since 2020 marks the 20th PWOS mission.