‘I wouldn’t have missed it for the world’
Frigo’s new logo was presented in memorable fashion on 7 and 8 June: during the Alpe d’HuZes, the company sponsored one of the participants who had cycled to collect money to fund the fight against cancer. ‘This is fantastic,’ said José Standaar (age 45), smiling, once she and her friend Willemijn Ellemeet (age 44) had recovered from their initial emotions, fatigue and aching muscles at the top of the legendary mountain. ‘My cycling has earned € 2,800 for the Alpe d’HuZes Foundation’s Research Fund. With the Frigo Group first in line, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me financially. But that support was much more than sponsoring alone. During those tough moments on the road to the top of Alpe d’Huez, I felt a lot of psychological support from all those people who had gathered together behind me.’ Alpe d’HuZes collected a total of more than 20 million euros in 2011.
More than 27 years after being cured of leukaemia, José from Bennebroek, also conquered the Alpe d’Huez. With the financial and moral support of sponsors that included the Frigo Group – and her friend, Willemijn Ellemeet who also lives in Bennebroek – she reached the top of this mountain in the French Alps on 7 and 8 June after 8.5 hours of tremendous effort. ‘Stuck onto the luggage carrier of my bicycle were pictures of friends and acquaintances who had died of cancer or were suffering from the disease,’ says José. ‘I had to think about them all the way to the top – I was cycling for them, too. When Willemijn and I finally reached the finish line after hours of pushing ourselves onward and upward, we both broke out into tears. It was a very emotional moment.’
Giving up is not an option!
‘Giving up is not an option’ is the motto of the Alpe d’HuZes Foundation that collects money that is spent, by means of its own research fund, on research conducted to fight and prevent cancer. ‘And all the money collected is actually spent on research – nothing goes to the foundation itself – there’s absolutely no rake-off,’ emphasised José. ‘That appealed to me so much that I decided at the beginning of this year to participate in the Alpe d’HuZes.’
A long hesitation
She hesitated for a long time, because due to lung problems, for one thing, José had doubts about whether she could really do it. Willemijn convinced her and spontaneously offered to accompany her friend on the asphalt road with its 21 curves winding their way to the top of the Alpe d’Huez. ‘Wil and Henk, owners of the Frigo in ‘s-Heerenberg, are friends of ours. When we asked them if they would sponsor us, they didn’t hesitate a second. Many family members and friends were also willing to sponsor our participation in the Alpe d’HuZes. When we took off for France, we knew that if we could reach the top, we could transfer € 2,800 to the Alpe d’HuZes Foundation.
Dutch ‘mountains’ nothing like the Alps
To prepare, José and Willemijn had put in their hours of training on roads like those in South Limburg and, closer to home, the slopes of the pyramid-shaped Big Spotters Hill on the former Floriade site in Hoofddorp. In France, these ‘Dutch mountains’ proved nothing in comparison with the steepness of a French Alp. ‘During our first training ride on Monday, 6 June, it quickly became clear that José wouldn’t make it in a single go,’ says Willemijn. ‘That’s when we decided to start on Tuesday. On that day, under terrible weather conditions with lots of rain and fog, we arrived at curve 7. A day later, on 8 June, we started at curve 7 and made it to the finish.’
On their memorable way to the top, José and Willemijn were also involved in another world premier: on their cycling pants was the new blue-green logo of the Frigo Group. ‘I want to thank everyone who supported me financially,’ says José. But that support was much more than sponsoring alone. During those tough moments on the road to the top of Alpe d’Huez, I felt a lot of psychological support from all those people who had gathered together behind me.’
A one-time event?
But the question now is: was this a one-time event, or is volunteering for another Alpe d’HuZes next year an option for both of these ladies? ‘It was worth repeating in any case,’ says Willemijn, smiling. ‘But whether or not we’ll do it again… Well, we’ll be thinking about that in the near future.’ ‘First, though,’ says José, ‘we’re going to enjoy what we’ve done here for a while. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.’
More information about Alpe d’HuZes and the spending of its research funding can be found at www.opgevenisgeenoptie.nl. Until now, the 2011 event has brought in more than twenty million euros. Would you like to make a financial contribution? You can, by depositing your contribution into account number 184.108.40.206 in the name of Stichting Alpe d’HuZes in Everdingen.