Following a hiatus, the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, the Vancouver Island cycling event that raises funds for children battling cancer, is coming back to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
Twenty-one riders representing 15 police and other agencies from Port Hardy to Victoria are now in the final intensive training for the tour which starts on Sept. 24.
“I wasn’t a cyclist before this training … but I’m almost ready to call myself a cyclist now,” said Trent Edwards, who retired from the Saanich Police Department in 2020.
He’s been training for the past five months. “I can ride over 90 kilometres in a day now.”
Edwards isn’t the only rider to have noticed the physical improvement through the training. Victoria police Const. Chris Van Swieten and Tiffany Parton, executive director of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, have noticed a difference in their health and stamina since training began in March.
But the physical training takes a back seat to raising money for cancer research and bringing hope to the kids and their families dealing with cancer.
“This riding and my goal of fundraising is just a small step forward, but certainly it will bring something towards the success in the battle against cancer,” Parton said.
This year’s Tour de Rock holds a special significance, as it is her first time riding in the tour following 15 years of fundraising. She used to work in Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, which hosts children undergoing treatment and their families, and organized three cycling tours for the Canadian Cancer Society before this year.
“When I am riding, I can feel that I am fighting in the battles of cancer with those kids and families together. This is totally different from my previous experience,” she said.
Van Swieten still remembers the first tour coming to his elementary school in Colwood when he was in Grade 2.
“They came into the gym. Can you believe that a rider and my music teacher shaved their head in front of the entire school?” said Van Swieten, who also shaved his head and eyebrows this year as a 2022 tour cyclist.
“It helped me to raise $2,000 in 24 hours,” he said with a laugh. “I love kids and I heard the story of Ethan, a boy who has recovered from leukemia. That makes me so proud to join the tour and make an effort to support more cancer kids with the best chance at survival.”
Edwards recalled working with Martin Pepper, one of the founders of Tour de Rock in 1997, and watching the growth of the tour.
“I retired in January 2020, and now it is the time to keep my commitment to the tour,” he said.
He is also inspired by his two honorary riders, Chelsea and Edwards’ sister Sophie. “They did brilliant in the battle against cancer, which inspired me to bring hope to them from the training and touring.”
Over the past 25 years, the tour has raised more than $26 million. Currently, more than $180,000 has been donated to the 2022 tour, towards its goal of $850,000.
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