Lindy Skutnik led the Tour de Rock paceline into town on Monday afternoon, a faint sunglasses tan visible across her face from a long summer of training, as Ladysmith Intermediate students eagerly waited to high-five riders.
“I’ve realized how positive the Tour de Rock is for families and kids,” Skutnik told the Chronicle.
The 460 Realty agent has supported the Tour for a number of years and was selected as a community rider as part of the 20th annual ride.
“I’ve had intimate conversations with mums, and dads and little kids who have benefited from Tour de Rock and that’s been a good thing.”
Locally, the community has raised $38,000 for this year’s Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, with all the money going towards pediatric cancer research and support programs such as Camp Goodtimes.
“It just gives them something good to think about at an otherwise challenging time,” Skutnik said of the camp for children with a history of cancer.
One conversation with a 6-year-old girl at a Qualicum Beach school has stuck with her on the long days in the saddle – Monday’s leg from Nanaimo to Chemainus totaled close to 90 kilometres.
“We had a few minutes to have these one-on-one conversations and she said ‘my brother has cancer…he’s four…he’s at home with my parents and had to go to a special place to get medicine and now he’s home,” she said. “They’re waiting to be part of Tour de Rock and go to Camp Goodtimes. They’re excited about that and even though he’s going through treatment right now they’re thinking of this thing they’re going to do as a family and it’s something positive to look forward to.”
The Tour spans over 1,000 kilometres and stops in 27 communities.
At Ladysmith Intermediate, Skutnik was able to catch up with her junior rider Gryffin, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was only a few months old.
“He’s doing really well now but he does got to B.C. Children’s Hospital every six months to get checked out,” she said.
The 24 riders were then presented with a $500 cheque from the Ladysmith Lions Club and the school itself raised $400.
Another $21,000 was raised by the over 150 community members who attended Monday night’s sold out Red Serge Dinner at Eagles Hall.
Skutnik said the whole day was pulled off in “true Ladysmith fashion.”
“I miss my family and I know how hard everybody’s worked so it was just great to see all those familiar faces,” she said. “It feels good to meet new people and talk to people but it feels very, very good to come into your own community.”
The Tour wraps up later this week with a big celebration in Victoria.
Skutnik said all the training over the summer, including a climb up Mt. Washington, more than prepared her for both the physical and mental challenges of the Tour.
“Now that we’re in the more high-density, populated areas, there’s a lot of stops and we’re literally sprinting from one stop to another,” she said. “It’s not about us and a bike ride, we want to be there and thank them for raising that money.”