After 25 years, more than half a million kilometres cycles and $26 million raised, the iconic Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is still one of the most talked-about fundraisers on the Island.
The ride started as an opportunity for a few first responders to help children and families suffering from, and with the effects, of cancer. The donations these unsung heroes raise are used for pediatric cancer research as well as supporting an opportunity for children and their families to experience a bit of the fun of being a kid and attending summer camp.
On Monday, Oct. 3, residents of Ladysmith will have the opportunity of seeing and meeting this year’s group of 21 riders when they arrive in the community. Scheduled to arrive at Ladysmith Secondary School at approximately 12:35 p.m., the riders will have done almost half of their 1,200km ride down the Island which started Sept. 24 in Port Alice and will finish in Victoria on Friday, Oct. 7.
“From school children to their parents, it’s all about the kids,” said Simon Douthwaite, Tour de Rock co-ordinator. “Of course it’s the riders that bring the awarenesses of the event to the Island, but it’s the kids all along the way that really get the energy going. That is the biggest reason we try and make our stops at schools along the way, because not only do the kids get all excited about the ride but the riders really feel the energy. It gives them that extra push to do the next hill or long straight stretch. The enthusiasm grows on the riders.”
The tour will be at the high school for about half an hour. During that stop the school body has some events planned to welcome the riders and hopefully fundraise.
One of the events the student body is promoting is raising one dollar for every kilometre the Tour de Rock riders do, so the goal is to raise $1,200.
Local councillor Duck Paterson, who has been growing his hair for a year, will finally be getting it shaved off during the school stop Oct. 3. Paterson was challenged last year by a Tour rider to let his hair grow for a year. He’s done that and will be getting his head shaved by longtime LSS music teacher Rod Alsop. At the same time, local youth sports supporter Denny Forrest has said that he will step in and get his head shaved as well. The LSS school gym will be open to the public for these events and the Ladysmith Intermediate School will also be participating in the welcoming the Cops for Cancer.
Once the events at LSS are complete, the Tour de Rock will head to the Ladysmith Tim Hortons, which has been selling Smile Cookies locally with proceeds going to the Tour de Rock. Riders will continue on to Chemainus, but will return to Ladysmith at 5:30 p.m. to participate in a Red Serge Dinner in their honour at the Eagles Hall.
The dinner is a highlight of the tour for the riders, as the Eagles and the Auxiliary cook up their usual great roast beef dinner and all the guests are served by members of the local RCMP as well as members of the Ladysmith Fire Rescue department. Members of the tour get into the act as well and work as servers.
“It gives them a chance to be even closer to the public and they can say thanks and tell their stories,” Douthwaite said.
“We really guarantee that everyone will have a very great meal and a lot of fun,” said committee member Jan Christensen.
Tickets for the Red Serge Dinner are available for $25 per person at the Ladysmith and District Credit Union.