Courtenay firefighter Andy Quinn is one of three Tour de Rock riders from the Comox Valley this year. Photo supplied

Courtenay firefighter Andy Quinn is one of three Tour de Rock riders from the Comox Valley this year. Photo supplied

Andy Quinn: What the Tour de Rock means to me

Submitted by Andy Quinn

Special to The Record

Andy Quinn is one of three 2018 Tour De Rock riders from the Comox Valley. He offered this submission as he prepares for the TDR to begin, Saturday in Port Alice.

***

Most locals know about the Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock annual bike ride rolling through town in early fall. This year marks the 21st tour starting Sept. 22 in Port Alice and finishing in downtown Victoria Oct. 5. The important dates to remember in the Comox Valley area are Sept. 26 and the morning of Sept. 27.

After training three times a week since April, this year’s 22 riders are more than ready to tackle the 1,100 km Island-covering mission. Four thousand kilometres of training together gives you lots of time to get to know your fellow riders and their reasons for volunteering so many hours to this cause.

Cancer affects everyone in our communities in many ways, Each rider has a cancer story of why they joined the team. 97.3 The Eagle’s Jon De Roo also adds to the third of our Comox Valley riders as one of two Tour de Rock media riders. Jon is a fun addition bringing his radio humour and charm to the team!

Tour rider Nicole Emery from Oyster River Fire is a two-time cancer survivor and in my opinion this year’s team’s best example of what the Tour de Rock is really about – helping kids with cancer live a more normal life using cancer medical research enhancements and programs for families living with cancer.

Sending kids with cancer – and for some weeks the whole family – to summer camp is a major part of the campaign drive for the tour. These very special camps with extra amenities and staff are customized to make every kid with cancer who attends just another kid who is out there playing and laughing, skimming rocks across the lake and singing silly songs at the top of their lungs.

Camp Goodtimes expanded to two different settings this past summer – Maple Ridge and right here on the Island at Shawnigan Lake. Personally, visiting both sites and interacting with the campers was both riveting to my belief in our mission and awe inspiring at the amazing fortitude of these little superheroes and how they cope with issues way beyond normal day to day drama for the rest of us.

As a fire responder with Courtenay Fire Department and in the past, the fire service in Ontario, I have been exposed to some ugly situations. Like many other similar agencies, we all have some repressed memories which occasionally haunt us. Tour de Rock is a window back… a feel-good fix which more than remedies the dark parts we lock away in our head.

This whole summer I have been meeting amazing people every day who are pulling in the same direction with passion, like Kandi Wood and her posse of horse enthusiasts in the Cups for Cancer Team. She has multiple events all summer including a western-style dance party later this month.

I truly look forward to the Tour and all it stands for – getting to see communities Island-wide come together as a unified group: shaving heads, donating silent auction items, flipping burgers, car washes or perhaps kissing a pig. There is a goosebumps buzz when entering a school gym full of an energy that cannot honestly be accurately described. There is that hug that seems a little too tight from a parent of a Camp Goodtimes kid who was able to be free from the grip of cancer for a brief week. And there are the cheers and honking horns of people as we pedal through. Thank you for your encouragement.

Some of our longer training rides can be daunting – But then you think about who your doing this for and how they can just stop and rest… their battle is all day every day.

I write this to my home community for this very simply ask: Come out and support – if not The Tour de Rock then some other equally important cause that is dear to your heart. Give back as a volunteer or support by donation. Because a healthy village is one where everybody pitches in for the greater good. I’m no spin doctor or HR specialist – I’m just an average Joe who was lucky enough to be eligible to participate in an amazing event. I look forward to meeting everyone who comes out and hearing your stories of how good it feels to help and make our part of this world a better place. Remember… it’s for the kids!

I will be shaving my head and shaving my moustache at the Thrifty Foods Community Breakfast which takes place at Thrifty Foods on Lerwick Rd. on Thursday, Sept. 27 between 7 and 9 a.m. – look for me after 8 am.

Comox Valley Tour de Rock Red Serge Spaghetti Dinner takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 5:30 – 8:30 at Ecole Au-coeur-de-l’ile in Comox. Come out and meet this year’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team and help us raise funds to help Vancouver Island kids affected by cancer. RCMP, MPs and firefighters will serve dinner and there will be silent auction items up for grabs, a WestJet Raffle draw, a Wall of Beverages draw, 50/50 draw and more! Tickets are available at the Canadian Cancer Society office at 102 – 1509 Cliffe Ave. weekdays between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Coast Capital Savings at 100 – 382 Lerwick Rd. and at 97.3 The Eagle at 801B 29 St. Hope to see you there!

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