Feature Story Sunday, October 5, 2014
Cops for Cancer riders raise $170,000 for Camp Goodtimes
Cops for Cancer riders head to the local RCMP detachment on Airport Road last week.
ou’ve been fighting a wicked headwind for hours. It feels like you’re dragging a sled full of rocks. You’re soaked, exhausted and hundreds of miles from home. You have to gut it out.
The 17th Annual Canadian Cancer Society's Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley rolled into Chilliwack against a driving rain last week. Spirits were high despite the gritty weather.
Twenty-two riders take part in the nine-day sprint September 25-October 3 to raise funds and promote awareness for childhood cancer.
Cancer Society spokesperson Tricia Hoy told The Voice the riders raised $170,000 in 6 months. Each participant needs to raise a minimum of $5000 in order to take part. A lot of the members of the riding team hold fundraisers throughout the year at different Save-On stores around the Lower Mainland. Coast Capital is their other major sponsor.
On Friday morning, the group stopped at Evans Elementary for a presentation and then rode to Pricesmart Foods where they were treated to a hearty lunch. After that, they headed to the RCMP detachment on Airport Rd. for cheers from peers, which is where The Voice caught up with them.
When it comes to the uber ride like this, average people don’t really understand what it’s like to be a part of a team that accomplishes extraordinary things which these cops did in fine fashion. The crew makes stops for presentations and rallies all along the 800 km route from Tsawwassen to Boston Bar.
Insp. Deanne Burleigh, RCMP UFVRD, was presented with a plaque by the Cancer Society that reads “Thank you for supporting the Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer 2014 Tour de Valley.”
“I want to say thank you on behalf of the RCMP in Chilliwack. What you guys are doing to raise funds is absolutely phenomenal,” said Burleigh.
Also along for the trip was young cancer patient Kaelyn and her mom Tara. The youngster wears a long necklace looped two or three times around her neck.
Insp. Deanne Burleigh shows off a plaque presented to her by the Cancer Society and shakes the hand of rider Abbotsford police constable Les Betker.
Cst. Sarah Swallow from Delta RCMP explained the significance of the necklace, “She entered into the bead program and each one of those beads represents some part of that journey, be it chemotherapy treatment, she has a bead, radiotherapy treatment she has a bead, any kind of jab, when she has a lumbar spinal tap. That goes around her neck about three times and every one of those beads represents one treatment or something that she's had during her treatment.”
Cops on the ride also get beads for a variety of things.
“The beads that the officers are getting are ones that are traditional as part of the culture camp tour and what that does is that it gives us something in common with the kids and we gets, like there's beads if you fall off, beads for rainy days, beads for sunny days. There are beads with initials on them when we stop at the schools with families where one of the children has passed away as a result of the cancer. They get a bead with the kid’s initials on them to remind us why we're doing it and give us a connection with the kids,” she explained.
The money raised is directed to Camp Goodtimes, a facility in Maple Ridge run by the Canadian Cancer Society, where kids with cancer and their families can go to and have some fun and engage in various activities.
She said people are coming up to them on the street and giving money because their lives have been touched by the disease.
"They're giving you $5 or they're giving you $10 or even $2 and that feeling it keeps us riding, it and the families get to send their kids to a fully supported medical camp without them having to pay a dime, they feel that same love.
Cancer patient Kaelyn and her mom Tara with RCMP Insp. Deanne Burleigh and a special plaque from the Cancer Society.
“We started training in April. We've got a monthly ride as a team. So every month we get together as a team and ride. We maintain our logs. We have a minimum of kilometers we have to do each month. At the end of August we did a "Century Ride" which is 100 miles (160km). We went out to Harrison Hot Springs for the day and came back and then it was 2 weeks to the ride and here we are,” she said.
Sleeping on the floors of rec centres doesn’t faze Swallow who says she feels great physically.
“When you do something like this as a police officer this really gives you the opportunity to do what you signed up for which is to look out for people and take care of people and this gives you an opportunity... a lot of the money we raise goes to Camp Good Times where kids with cancer go to. It’s mostly all paid for by the Cops for Cancer ride,” said Swallow.
“An inspirational moment came for the riders and support crew at a local Ecole La Verendrye when a student got up on his crutches and walked in front of the team of riders for the first time since his surgery,” said Abbotsford police constable Les Betker. “He had a portion of his lower leg amputated. His mom was holding his IV bags. So today in front of his whole school, just because Cops for Cancer were there and supporting him, he got up on his crutches for the first time.”
“When we're going up hills and struggling, in pain, I think of him on his crutches,” added Betker.
“The other important thing to remember about cancer is that pediatric cancer has 85 per cent survival rate. So it's not all a doom and gloom story. It's an amazing story that people have been able to relate to,” said Swallow.
About the Cops for Cancer Ride
The Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer campaign takes place in September, with fundraising and publicity events happening throughout the summer leading up to the four cycling tours. The annual fundraiser is a partnership with law enforcement and emergency services agencies that works to make a difference in the lives of children affected by cancer and their families. Since 1997 Cops for Cancer in BC has raised more than $32 million allowing the Society to directly fund childhood cancer research and caring support programs.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).
Connect online at www.cancer.ca
Cops for Cancer www.copsforcancerbc.ca
Camp Goodtimes www.campgoodtimes.org
See more photos below.
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