West Shore RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Wright

Tour de Rock finale caps emotional fundraiser

Black Press reporter grateful for opportunity to be a part of Tour again

Clearly I wasn’t ready to let it go.

Even days before I completed last year’s Tour de Rock’s 1,100 km bike ride down Vancouver Island as a media rider representing Black Press, I was already mentally preparing myself for reintegration back into normal life.

There would be no more meals prepared for me every time I woke up, no more cycling through red lights, no more photographers at every stop and worst of all, no more time spent with the team and families affected by cancer along the way. I knew it would be a bitter pill to swallow, and it was. It still is.

You can only ride for Cops for Cancer once, so signing up this year to be a member of the support crew to keep myself in the family was an easy decision.

I tried to put my name down shortly after the tour ended in October a year ago, before, as I found out, applications were even being accepted. Check back next year, I was told. So I did, got accepted and sadly on Oct. 3, 2014 that journey ended again when the 2014 Tour de Rock team cycled into Centennial Square for the finale.

With the support of Black Press, who again graciously gave me the week off to be media co-ordinator and photographer as the tour travelled from Ucluelet south into Victoria, I witnessed the spirit of sacrifice necessary for the fundraiser in a way I don’t think I truly understood last year.

The dedication of Canadian Cancer Society staff members, fundraisers, teachers and principals, families affected by cancer, the support crew and, of course, the amazing riders was evident day in and day out in a way that I don’t think I fully appreciated when I rode last year.

Truth be told, as the photographer, perhaps I had the best seat in the house to witness this as the tour traversed the undulating island terrain where every member of the team, a team that included supporters from every community along the way, gave so much with no expectation in return.

Some days you are in front of the camera, some days you are behind it, but the importance of those behind the scenes wasn’t quite as obvious to me last year.

From those in the laundry room folding clothes for the riders, donators working at a coffee shop to donate their tips that day, artists at home making hand-made gifts for the riders as they passed through their communities and kitchen staff peeling the potatoes that would go into that evening’s dinner, the unseen can sometimes go unappreciated.

But silent auction items don’t magically materialize on their own, bags don’t find their way to hotel rooms by accident and the incredible school assemblies don’t plan themselves.

What’s been dubbed the “Island’s charity” is proving to be just that, with communities across the Island raising funds, and doing the work before the thanks come in and continuing on well after the crowds have dispersed.

Fundraisers like this are built on the shoulders of those we rarely hear about. Those that continue doing what they do every year: planning beforehand, running the show as it unfolds and hauling it all away until the next year. And all the while they do so undetected, with hearts the size of Vancouver Island beating in their chests.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

Other Tour de Rock stories:

Cycling for hope: West Shore RCMP officer joins Tour de Rock

Junior rider inspires Tour team member to keep going

West Shore rider crashes between Ucluelet and Tofino

Tour de Rock rolls through the West Shore