Ladysmith getting ready to host Tour de Rock riders

The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock arrives in Ladysmith on Mon., Oct. 1, and an afternoon celebration and Red Serge Dinner are planned.

In less than one week, the 18 riders representing this year’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock will arrive in Ladysmith.

They will be tired, and they will be hungry and in need of some good old-fashioned Ladysmith hospitality.

No one knows that feeling better than Black Press reporter Chris Bush, who participated in the 2011 Tour.

“You’ve been on the road more than a week, so by that point, you’re starting to get fairly emotionally and physically drained,” he said. “You’re getting very tired, but it really perks you up when you get a huge welcome when you come into a town.”

The North Oyster resident said he was overwhelmed by last year’s support, although Ladysmith has traditionally been a big supporter of Tour de Rock.

“It was probably the biggest [turnout] of all the small towns,” he recalled. “Everybody had a lot of fun there.”

The 2012 Tour de Rock team’s 1,000-kilometre journey to raise funds for pediatric cancer research officially hit the road Sept. 23, after a send-off celebration in Port Alice the night before. By the time they reach Ladysmith on Mon., Oct. 1, they will have travelled more than 680 kilometres, visiting places like Courtenay, Parksville, Port Alberni and Ucluelet.

“When you get into Campbell River and Courtenay and some of the more major centres, you’re doing a lot of bouncing around,” Bush said.

A Red Serge Dinner is being held Monday night at the Eagles Hall to honour the riders and provide the community with a chance to meet the riders.

Among the list of speakers will be Ladysmith’s Tammy Dougan, whose son Callum was diagnosed with advanced stage four neuroblastoma at the age of four and a half months.

Throughout the ordeal, Callum was a bright spark in an otherwise unfortunate circumstance, and he participated in the Tour de Rock two years in a row as a junior rider. However, shortly after the end of the 2010 Tour, little Callum’s cancer had returned, and he passed away Oct. 18 at Canuck Place.

Callum’s nine-year-old brother Zac now participates in the Tour as a junior rider in his memory.

“We stay involved for those kids that are still going through it and the research,” Dougan said.

The junior riders are current or surviving young cancer patients or siblings of children who have lost their battle with cancer. Their role is to serve as inspiration to Tour de Rock riders.

“A lot of them already have personal stories, but sometimes when you can connect with a junior rider, you realize what they’ve had to go through to get to where they are,” Dougan said. “We have friends that go to Camp Good Times and other friends who are going through treatment and some who are in remission and some that have not made it.”

The Tour de Rock riders are expected to arrive in Ladysmith Mon., Oct. 1 at around 2 p.m., and there will be a reception at the Ladysmith and District Credit Union parking lot.

Tickets for the Red Serge Dinner are $35 and are available now at the Canadian Cancer Society office inside the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association building at 630 Second Ave. or by calling 250-245-0671. Doors open at the Eagles Hall at 6 p.m., and the dinner will start at 7 p.m.

Follow Tour de Rock news coverage across Vancouver Island on our Black Press Tour de Rock page — and while you’re there, you can enter to win a Thrifty Foods $500 gift card.  and don’t forget to enter the Thrifty Foods $500 gift card contest