A cheering gym full of exuberant students at Edward Milne Community School in Sooke welcomed the 20th team of the Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock on Friday.
The 24-member team will cycle the length of Vancouver Island this fall, raising money for pediatric cancer research and support programs.
This year’s team includes riders from almost every part of the Island, said Jan Buehler, spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“Communities and schools are the backbone of Tour de Rock. It’s about kids helping kids. In fact, Vancouver Island is the Tour de Rock,” she said.
This year’s team takes on a different flavour and won’t include just police officers and media riders, but paramedics, firefighters and community advocates.
On the team are brothers Mark and Ryan Hendren. Mark is an officer with the Saanich Police Department and his brother Ryan is a paramedic with B.C. Ambulance Services. Ryan volunteered last year for the tour, and has battled childhood leukemia.
And for only the second time in the tour’s history a repeat rider will take part in the two-week trek. Arnold Lim, representing Black Press, rode on the tour four years ago.
“I’m doing this because I’m so passionate about the cause. I had the opportunity to ride Tour de Rock in 2013 and it was an amazing experience,” Lim said.
On Friday, team members received their official training jerseys and tour bikes.
EMCS students were also challenged during the one-hour ceremony by vice-principal Todd Powell to raise $10,000 or more for the tour, and asked for volunteers from the audience with long hair if they would be willing to lose their locks for philanthropy.
English teacher Angus McCowan, who has shoulder length curly hair and a full beard, stepped forward. McCowan’s locks will be sheared after the money is collected in October.
Since its inception in 1998, the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock has raised more than $22 million to help children with cancer.
The Tour de Rock team will spend the next five months training on the bike and fundraising, before setting out on Sept. 23 for the 1,100-kilometre tour, beginning in Port Alice and ending in Victoria on Oct. 6.
This year’s Tour de Rock team includes:
Sandra Boyd; Vista Radio’s 1240 Coast AM in Port Hardy; Virginia Bessette, Campbell River RCMP; Dirk Finkensiep, Comox Valley RCMP; Marc Yeon, Military Police Unit Comox; Marcel Midlane, Ucluelet RCMP; Beth O’Connor, Port Alberni RCMP; Dave Boyce, Port Alberni RCMP; Samantha Caram, Nanaimo RCMP; Kevin Flood, Nanaimo RCMP; Lindy Skutnik, Ladysmith; Kris Wood, Duncan RCMP; Cole Brewer, West Shore RCMP; Ashley Cockle, Victoria Police; Jill Bonnet, RCMP Island District Headquarters; Jonathon deBoer, Saanich Police; Chelsea Cofield, Saanich Police; Mark Hendren, Saanich Police; Ryan Hendren, B.C. Ambulance Service; Glen Polson, B.C. Ambulance Service; David Brown, View Royal Fire Rescue; Chris Day, CFB Esquimalt Fire Department; Matthew Best, Military Police Unit Esquimalt; Arnold Lim, Black Press and 2013 Alumni Rider; Mike Gonzalez, Old Spaghetti Factory.
The Canadian Cancer Society announced the naming of a special “Cops For Cancer B.C. Fund” that will collect and disburse the dollars raised for Camp Goodtimes and pediatric cancer research on an annual basis.
“These [Cops for Cancer] donor dollars have made a big difference in the lives of children living with cancer,” said Jan Buehler, spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society.
This year in Canada nearly 920 children under the age of 14 will be diagnosed with cancer; 117 of those children will lose their battle.