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High school bikeathon raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for Make-A-Wish foundation

Teddy Atkins and his family have never been on a plane before, but soon they’ll be flying to Florida thanks in part to hundreds of west-end high school students.

The seven-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with a rare form of bladder cancer soon after he was born, found out his Make-A-Wish wish is coming true at Jasper Place High School’s seventh annual Rebels With a Cause bikeathon.

“It’s amazing of them, the amount of work they have to probably put in for this,” Teddy’s father Chris Atkins told CTV News Edmonton on Thursday at the school.

“I can only imagine that the fundraising, the amount of money they raise is crazy as well.”

Teddy, who had surgery soon after he was born and has been cancer-free for six years — “perfectly healthy and alarming us to no end because he wants to play football,” says Chris — and his family live in a neighbourhood close to the school.

About 650 students are peddling over the next 24 hours as part of the students’ fundraising efforts that’s seen them raise an estimated $215,000 this year for the Make-A-Wish foundation and more than $1 million since 2016 for the charitable group that grants wishes to children with critical illnesses.

The students will cycle on stationary bikes around the clock until 1 p.m. on Friday.

Matt Burrows, a guidance counsellor with the school’s student services department, said it’s “amazing” what the students can accomplish when they work together for a cause.

“We have such a big population here at JP, so to have 650 kids all team up for the same cause and do their part, (it’s) something totally selfless,” Burrows said.

“Lots of them will never meet the wish recipients and these families, so I love that piece of it, and part of their reward is we have a big 24-hour celebration here at the school where we get to do a wish reveal like we just did here, have a midnight dance, Wayne Lee the hypnotist will be here, and bikes will be going all through the night.

“It’ll be a real tough slog by tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, but well worth it.” 

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