This year’s Tour de Rock ride is over, but not before rallying a ton of support and cash at Ladysmith’s Red Serge dinner on October 3 at the Eagles Hall. Community members dined with the 22 members of this year’s Tour de Rock team and raised thousands of dollars in donations, raffles and silent and live auction.
For the riders, the night was not about their trials and tribulations but the people they have experienced along the way.
“The stories and the welcoming that we’ve had from these different communities… people come up and tell you their stories. This isn’t just about child cancer it’s about adult cancer, it’s about other things that people want to share with you when they come up to you and open up their hearts to you,” said rider and Black Press photographer Chris Bush.
“All we have to do is ride our bikes very fast, a long way and up a lot of hills, through a lot of weather.”
James Matsuda, RCMP auxiliary rider, provided an example of one community of 800 people who raised $14,000 for the cause.
“It’s just incredible what they can accomplish in small communities, and we’ve seen that all the way down the Island,” he said. “We hit Sayward, they were without power for two days before we got there and they still pulled off a [dinner] for us.”
Ladysmith resident Ed Polachek has been dedicated to fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society for over two years. Every day, he does his rounds in the community, collecting cans and bottles from various businesses.
“I take them home and I sort them all out,” he said. “It’s a lot of work but I enjoy it.”
Last year, all of the proceeds went to the Tour de Rock while this year’s proceeds will go specifically to help fund research for prostate cancer.
“This year was very good for me, so far I have $2,300,” Polachek said.
Dinner attendees also got to hear from the inspiration behind the Tour de Rock; the kids. Junior riders Justin Plunkett and Matthew Kercher took a few moments to tell their stories.
Kercher, 14, has been three years free from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Kercher captivated the audience as he presented and discussed his bead necklace, a testament to his journey with cancer.
Each bead, depending on its colour and size, represented a different treatment or event that took place, Kercher explained. For example, white represents chemotherapy, red represents blood transfusions and ivory for lumber punctures.
Donations during the evening included: $5,000 from the Hospital Auxiliary, $3,736 from Tim Hortons, and $1,000 a piece from the Eagles and Eagles Auxiliary.
The next morning, the Tour stopped by the Chemainus Legion for a pancake breakfast, and was presented with an $800 cheque towards the cause.
Noriko Nakahara of the Ladysmith Canadian Cancer Society branch said money is still trickling in and numbers are still being crunched, but to date, the town’s total for funds raised during the tour’s visit October 3 is over $17,000.