The Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team is preparing to cycle the length of Vancouver Island to raise money that will help children who are fighting cancer. The annual ride kicked off Saturday, Sept. 23 in Port Alice and finishes Oct. 6 in Victoria.
Comox Valley RCMP Cpl. Dirk Finkensiep and Cpl. Marc Yeon of the Military Police Unit in Comox are part of this year’s team of 24 riders.
Everyone seems to be touched by cancer in some way. In Yeon’s case, he lost two grandparents to the disease in the span of six months.
“After having seen what that did to my family, anything I can do, big or small, to push back and reduce the chance of someone else going through that, I am more than happy to do so,” he said.
Yeon used to commute daily by bike when he was working and living in downtown Ottawa. Training with Cops for Cancer has been a welcome change in terms of group riding over longer distances, as opposed to riding alongside vehicles in a downtown setting.
“The training has been great,” he said. “They set it up well to progress through the training and build up your skills and confidence. It has been very helpful.”
“The training is designed to bring anyone to the level of being able to complete the ride,” added Finkensiep, who started competitive cycling in the late-’80s when he was doing triathlons. After joining the RCMP in 2003, his focus switched to charity rides.
“There is nothing more satisfying in my career than these two weeks in the fall when I can ride my bike and meet these incredible kids and their families that need our help,” Finkensiep said. “It may sound cliche, but I truly believe that most police officers picked their career because they genuinely want to help people, and I can’t think of a better way to give back to the community than this.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Tour de Rock. Since its inception in 1998, the event has raised over $22 million. The money funds pediatric cancer research and helps send Vancouver Island children to Camp Goodtimes – a summer camp for kids with a history of cancer.
“We are celebrating 20 years of hope,” says Jan Buehler, manager of Annual Giving Vancouver Island. “This year is special because for 20 years, the Tour de Rock team has been made up of only police officers and invited guest riders, but this year we are thrilled to welcome firefighters and paramedics.”
This year in Canada, close to 920 children under 14 will be diagnosed with cancer. Of those, 117 will lose their battle. For those who beat the disease, many will suffer with long-term and life-threatening effects from treatment. Research will help find safer, gentler treatments.
The tour rolls into the Comox Valley Wednesday, Sept. 27.
That day, a Red Serge Spaghetti Dinner will be held from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Ecole Au-coeur-de-Iile in Comox. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, available at the Canadian Cancer Society office at 102 – 1509 Cliffe Ave. (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and Coast Capital Savings at 100 – 382 Lerwick Rd.
On Thursday, Sept. 28 from 7–9 a.m., there’s a community breakfast and head shave at Thrifty Foods Crown Isle location at Lerwick and Ryan.