After months of training and community events, the 19 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders have officially received their ride jerseys as the main event draws nearer.
On Friday (Sept. 8) at the last official event before the ride, the riders were joined by their families, honourary riders, department commanders, and event sponsors for an evening of celebration at CFB Esquimalt’s Officers’ Mess Gunroom.
One by one, each rider was called up to receive their jersey, some from the young honorary riders who are either battling or have battled childhood cancer. It was a night of celebration, but also one of reflection on why each rider is participating in the gruelling 1,200-kilometre, 14-day bike ride across Vancouver Island.
“What is the tour all about,” asked Simon Douthwaite, father of a childhood cancer survivor and guest rider for the 2019 tour.
“We help children battling cancer. Fighting their hearts out just to live. To survive. Kids are in hospital beds right now fighting, and no child should ever have to go through that.”
In his speech which moved some of the riders to tears, Douthwaite recalled his daughter Chelsea being diagnosed with cancer when she was three, turning his family’s life upside down overnight. He said the support from the Canadian Cancer Foundation was key to her successful battle.
“That is what the tour is all about. Taking action to make a difference. Amazing police officers, firefighters, and paramedics taking action to help struggling kids in the fight of their lives. Incredible human beings who have volunteered to go above and beyond the call of duty.”
The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is marking its 26th year with the ride beginning on Sept. 23. Since 1998 Cops for Cancer has raised more than $28 million for the Canadian Cancer Society, and has spread across the country with four fundraiser rides in B.C. alone.
Vancouver Island’s Tour de Rock ride has raised more than $345,000 of its $1 million goal this year as of Sept. 8.
Donations can be made online at support.cancer.ca.
This year’s team of police, emergency services and media riders includes the hefty West Shore RCMP contingent of Scott Hait, Mason Harrison, Rusty Olsen, Justin Raycraft and Kris Valentine. It features two from the Saanich Police Department, Shauna Bainbridge and Nadia Sandhu, and one Esquimalt-based Canadian Military Police member Mary Larkin. The 19-member team also includes Troy Mann from Island District RCMP, Mike Ramsey of Nanaimo RCMP, Wes Richens of North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, Ajinkya Chodankar of Courtenay Fire Department, Kirk Wolstenholme of Parksville Fire Department, Kayla Carlson of North Cowichan Fire Department and B.C. Emergency Health riders Michael Lowey and Katie Olsen. Media riders this year are Hannah Lelpine of Chek News and Johnny Novack of Virgin Radio.