Cpl. David Thompson saw cancer’s “six degrees of separation” and decided to do something about it.
Thompson, a patrolman with the military police at 19 Wing Comox, is the only rider north of Nanaimo in this year’s Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, a 14-day, 1,000-kilometre bike trip across Vancouver Island with the goal of raising money for pediatric cancer research and programs for children with a history of cancer.
Thompson credits his participation to co-worker Lauren Weaver, who was diagnosed with breast cancer just prior to Thompson’s posting to 19 Wing from Ontario. Weaver succumbed to the disease, and Thompson said the effect of her diagnosis impacted all of his co-workers.
“You could just see the influence it had — the impact that cancer has is just six degrees from everybody,” he explained.
Former Tour de Rock rider and co-worker Phil Hochu approached Thompson and asked if he would participate in this year’s ride.
Thompson agreed without hesitation.
“I look at my junior rider (with whom Thompson is paired during Tour de Rock), and what’s he’s gone through with cancer. If he can do it, we can do it,” he said. “We’re all on the same page (with other riders). We’ve got the common denominator, but it’s so neat to see complete strangers come together and fit like puzzle pieces.”
Thompson said he began training for the ride in March, and logs two-hour minimum rides Tuesdays and Thursdays with his trainers in Nanaimo, and a four- or five-hour ride on Saturdays.
He’s even tackled the ‘big hill’ — Mount Washington — which, for the self-admitted adrenaline junkie, took two and a half hours to climb, and “much less” time going down.
As a relative newcomer to the Island, Thompson said he’s looking forward to riding in the North Island, an area he has yet to explore. He admitted one of the biggest challenges that he believes he and the team will face is weather.
“The wind has a huge impact on training,” he admitted. “We once biked during the big storm in the spring, but with the team, you go until you break. That’s what will get us through the bad weather.”
Funds raised through the Tour will go to help Camp Goodtimes, a recreation program for children with cancer and their families. Thompson had the opportunity to visit the camp earlier this year.
“They are just regular kids trying to be kids,” he said.
The 2012 Tour de Rock begins in Port Alice on Sept. 23 and passes through the Comox Valley Sept. 26 and 27, ending in Victoria Oct. 5. For more information, or to donate, visit www.tourderock.ca.