I’m Mike Russell, Executive Vice President of Professional & Financial Services at Axis Insurance. For over a decade, I’ve been deeply involved with the Ride to Conquer Cancer fundraiser, a cause that has grown to be incredibly personal and fulfilling. 

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a grueling but rewarding two-day cycling event to raise awareness and financial support for cancer research. Cyclists ride more than 200 kilometers, pushing themselves to their physical limits.

What makes this ride so special is not just the physical challenge but the emotional and communal aspects that bind everyone together.

Riders come from all walks of life, each with their own story and motivation; some ride in memory of loved ones lost to cancer, while others ride to celebrate their own survival, and many participate to support ongoing research efforts. The event fosters a sense of unity and collective determination, which is both powerful and motivating.

My involvement started in 2010 to support a client, but what began as an act of support quickly turned into a passion. That first year, I joined the team as a photographer, documenting the riders’ journey from Vancouver down to Seattle, Washington. This event, which is now exclusively held in British Columbia, left a lasting impression on me.

Since 2010, I’ve participated nearly every year in both British Columbia and Alberta, with events attracting between 1,500 – 2,000 cyclists.

In 2023, I expanded my involvement to Toronto, where I joined a staggering 3,500 riders! 

My primary role is to photograph the riders, shooting over 4,000 photos and capturing cyclists’ determination, joy, and the beautiful moments that define the ride. Additionally, I provide ice and water aid, ensuring the riders stay hydrated and cool on the road. It’s a demanding role, but the smiles and gratitude from the participants make it all worthwhile.

I would encourage everyone to get involved in something they care about.

– Mike Russell

Participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer has been profoundly rewarding. There’s a unique sense of fulfillment that comes from being part of a group dedicated to a cause greater than themselves. The event is not just about the ride; it’s about giving back and supporting cancer research. It’s about doing something for others and having fun along the way. The camaraderie and the collective spirit of the riders and volunteers are truly inspiring.

The event has also faced its share of challenges. Last year, the smoke and air quality from the wildfires in BC presented an unexpected hurdle, forcing us to stop at Seabird Island. Despite this, the riders’ spirits were high and we made the best of the situation. The resilience of the participants in the face of adversity was truly inspiring, reminding me that the essence of the Ride to Conquer Cancer is not about reaching the finish line but about the journey and the community that supports each other along the way.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer has taught me a lot about photography and endurance, but also about the strength of the human spirit and the importance of community. It’s an event that brings out the best in people, and I’m grateful to be a part of it. 

In 2024, I’ll be participating in my 22nd and 23rd rides, marking a significant milestone in my participation with the Ride to Conquer Cancer events. 

I would encourage everyone to get involved in something they care about. Whether it’s the Ride to Conquer Cancer or another cause close to your heart; there’s immense joy and satisfaction in giving back. 

Find something that resonates with you and dive in! 

The experience can be life-changing.

Mike Russell
Executive Vice President, Professional & Financial Services

I’m Mike Russell, serving as the Executive Vice President at Axis Insurance for 30 years. My time in the insurance industry spans over four decades, where I specialize in professional liability for architects, engineers, and environmental consultants. I possess a deep understand of the complexities and unique risk landscape facing A&E firms, which has allowed me to become a trusted source for risk management within the A&E community.

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