The Prairie Women on Snowmobiles (PWOS) arrived in Wadena last Tuesday for a short visit during its annual 1800-kilometre trek. The ladies in pink tuques started their day in Preeceville. The 10 core riders and crew stopped in Lintlaw for coffee, passing through Kelvington before arriving in Wadena just before noon.
Entering the United Church hall, they were greeted with a standing ovation and welcomed by former core rider Jennifer Maleschuk of Wadena. Some then took the opportunity to talk to supporters, warming up with a cup of coffee before settling down to a hearty soup-and-sandwich lunch.
The riders then introduced themselves, and PWOS president Carol Lueken gave a brief history of the ride, stating how much the club appreciates the support it receives every year.
“It’s that support in front of us that makes PWOS,” said Lueken. “We would not have succeeded in raising the over $2-million without you.”
As an example, Lueken spoke highly of Vie Haugerud and the support the club received from Vie and her husband Earl, adding that she missed the stopovers at the Blue Willow Inn, formerly owned by the Haugeruds.
“I have wonderful memories of our pyjama parties in the kitchen or get-togethers in the A-frame,” joked Lueken. “You will always be in our hearts and memories,” she said directly to Vie, a cancer survivor herself.
Lueken was followed by Wadena town councillor Ashley Kolach, who told the crowd how honoured he was to be at the event and excited to welcome the group to town, before presenting each rider with a Town of Wadena pin.
Also in attendance was PWOS vice-president Connie Kitson, treasurer Shannon Scott, and former core rider Crystal Paulson of Wadena, who now acts as secretary for the club. Her husband Leonard Paulson was part of the group that escorted the entourage into Wadena. The other escorts included Kim Bisschop and Bart Hartl, both of Kelvington Trailblazers; Darwin Kells of Elfros, partner of core rider Elma Fischer; and Larry Wickstrom, who at first was unrecognizable, joked Lueken, “because he was driving a Yamaha!”
Lueken also thanked the leaders, Larry Wickstrom and Leonard Paulson, who brought the riders into Wadena.
“You are our Number One contact in the area,” Lueken told Wickstrom, whose wife Daphne was also a core rider and served on the executive for a number of years.
The 2015 PWOS core riders included Barb Batdorf of Greig Lake, Elma Fischer of Saskatoon, Tracey Persicke, Pam Stone and Holly Brotzel, all of the Prince Albert area, Skylar Johnston of near Wynyard, Terri Ferguson of Melfort, and Stacey Kozak, the alternate rider.
There are three core riders this year who are accompanied by their partners on the pit crew, including Diana and Leonard Darbyshire of Big River, Gerri and Randy Moeller of Meadow Lake, and Liz and Victor Paradzik of Buffalo Narrows.
After a few words from rider Elma Fisher, the special survivors’ pin presentations concluded the afternoon program. PWOS rider Skylar Johnston then gave a PWOS pin and very warm hug to any cancer survivors in the room who were willing to step forward.
The riders and crew were slated to head to Wynyard that day for the afternoon coffee break before concluding the day’s journey with a banquet in Watson. When the News caught up with Lueken on Thursday, she said they ran out of snow at Bruno and had been forced to trailer it for the day, joking that they were probably the only ones waiting for the snowfall that was expected to start that night.
The 2015 ride ends, after eight days in total, on Feb. 6 in Meadow Lake after visiting 30 Saskatchewan communities, mainly throughout the northeast.
Although there are no tallies of the final amount raised locally, the movement has raised more than $2.1-million in the past 15 years for the Canadian Cancer Society. Of the funds raised, 100 per cent goes toward breast cancer research in Saskatchewan.
Those wishing to donate can do so at prairiewomen.ca or contact Colleen Magee at 306-790-5814.
By Alison Squires