Gaining Strength: Liz's daughter inspires her to keep pedaling

Liz Weider

Summiting mountain passes during the Courage Classic bike tour in Copper Mountain is never an easy feat. However, when Liz Wieder thinks of her daughter, Anya, she is able to keep pushing through the hills.

When Anya was just 3 years old, she was diagnosed with cancer. As days progressed, she met with numerous nurses and doctors discussing the best methods of treatment. In one year, Anya underwent anesthesia 15 times and six months of chemotherapy. After countless visits filled with ups and downs, Anya also had surgery to have her eye removed and has undergone additional surgeries since. In November of 2011 doctors told Anya and her family the tumor was stable.

“Anya’s always been a very vivacious kind of kid,” said Anya’s mom, Liz. “She’s such a people person, so when she was in treatment at the hospital she was leading the way and teaching us all how to do it because she was so comfortable with it.”

Today, Anya is a happy and healthy 9-year-old who loves to try new things, as well as continuing traditions – like the Courage Classic.

Anya has crossed the finish line of the Courage Classic four times with her mom and family by her side.

“The first year, I rode the Courage Classic with my parents,” said Liz. “Anya rode some of it with me and after she said ‘I am doing that’. She’s why we continue to do it because she loves it.”

One of Liz and her family’s favorite moments from previous Courage Classics was running into a certain team their first year riding – The Stink Bugs.

This team represented a nonprofit that gives dogs to children who have had life-changing diseases. Anya received one of these dogs. One of the riders on this team is one of Anya’s caregivers, Physician’s Assistant in endocrinology at Children’s Colorado, Becca Sachs. Although Becca was not one of Anya’s caregivers during her early treatment, Anya and Becca connected at the Courage Classic and now have a special bond in and outside of the hospital. They have ridden together in past Courage Classic tours and Anya now sees her for her check-ups at Children’s Colorado.

When Liz finds herself getting tired during the ride, she just has to think of the courage Anya displays throughout her treatment.

“The whole time my daughter was battling cancer she displayed enormous amounts of courage,” said Liz. “There were so many things she had to do and she had no choice. I know especially the first year for me riding, there were times I was tired and wanted to give up but I thought of my daughter and her battle, and she didn’t give up so I didn’t.”

This year, Liz, Anya and the rest of the family will once again be partaking in the special moment of crossing the finish line together.