Steve Wright is drawing inspiration from his junior rider.
The West Shore RCMP staff sergeant said the 1,200-kilometre Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock journey, which winds its way through some challenging and undulating terrain, is less daunting when his thoughts go to those battling or having battled cancer.
That includes 12-year-old survivor Joel Dorval, who is assigned to Wright for this year’s Tour.
“(Joel) has had a terrible start, but that hasn’t knocked him down and to me it’s very inspirational,” said Wright, who began the Tour on Monday on the North Island with his teammates and support crew. “I can’t complain of having a bad day when you think of them and what they have been through. It helps put a face to what we are doing … It helps keeps us going and focused.”
Dorval, a student at Journey middle school in Sooke, was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia two weeks after his sixth birthday.
While the youngster isn’t riding a bike on the Tour, Wright said junior riders like him play an important role as the riders make their way down island.
“I’m in awe of his spirit. He is like any young man with lots of energy in life. My first impression was how incredibly positive Joel and his mother have been enduring this whole process,” he said. “The glass is always half full instead of half empty. Instead of being depressed, they are very happy to be in remission. I’m not sure what the future holds, but it is very uplifting.”
Dorval endured more than three years of chemotherapy to beat the disease and proudly raised $500 in 2013 for shaving off his Mohawk-styled hair. His mother, Michelle, said Joel’s participation in the annual campaign has been a source of pride and growth for him as well.
“It’s been awesome and has contributed to helping him talk about his cancer,” she said. “He didn’t like to talk about it for years, (but) as each year went by he started to talk more. (During an assembly) he actually got up and talked about cancer and losing friends to cancer – it was something I never thought he would ever do. It has been the Tour de Rock that brings that out in him.”
Participating in fundraisers such as a recent jail-a-thon that brought in more than $10,000 has been good for her son. Both she and Joel hope to continue their relationship with Cops for Cancer as a way to help them move through this challenging period in their lives.
“It is hard (at times) because it brings everything (back) up, but it’s wonderful to see what these men and women do, committing to these children who are suffering,” Michelle said. “Every year I am amazed at how hard they work and what they do for (children) who deserve everything. It’s not fair what is happening to them.”
Wright agrees, and said that is exactly what is driving him and the entire 24-member team as they pedal their way down Vancouver Island from now until Oct 3.
“It is amazing the spirit they have been able to maintain over this whole process,” he said. “There’s times on the ride when you grind through bad weather and grind the hills, but you think back on these kids and they don’t have a choice. The spirit they have keeps you going up those hills.”
To donate to the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, or find more information, visit tourderock.ca.