The 24th annual Tour de Rock returns to its roots this fall with a finale in Sidney.
“It’s been years since we’ve had the finale in Sidney, but we’re really excited to host it this year,” said organizer Laura Lavin, who also marks 10 years leading the Peninsula charge.
Lavin took the helm from longtime dedicated volunteer Julie Harman. As a journalist with Black Press Media she covered the Cops for Cancer cycling tour for years, hanging out with Harman in the park at the foot of Beacon Avenue, often in the rain.
Prior to COVID-19, a team of riders started on the North Island and wound its way south, stopping for fundraiser events and gatherings in communities along the way. The riders, primarily police officers, would also meet and hear stories from junior riders – kids facing cancer – in their home communities.
At the finale Tour de Rock riders would shared the stories and their experiences, which inspired many, including Lavin.
The story of a Pender Island family particularly hit home.
“I was really inspired by Henry Down and his parents, Jo and Alix,” Lavin said. “Cancer is something that can happen to anybody at any time. When it comes to kids you just want to do anything you can to help them.”
Henry was a baby at the time, he’s now 11. “He’s a kid now. Cancer research helped that happen.”
This year, teams ride in individual communities, but the stories are the same and the need remains.
The official windup event happens Friday, Oct. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Mary Winspear Centre’s Bodine Hall and adjacent courtyard, with the band on stage around 4:30 and the team riding in at 5. The announcement of the total funds raised comes at 6:30 p.m.
Broadcast media, print and radio are working together with streams of the events, a telethon and in-person activities.
“We’re really happy all media is working together to help us raise as much money as we can for kids going through cancer, for research, for Camp Goodtimes,” Lavin said.
From from 5 to 7:30 p.m. residents can call 1-888-939-3333, and press option 4 to make a donation. Every gift will be matched up to a total of $25,000 by the R.G. Heimbecker Foundation.
For the live event, a variety of alumni riders, support team members and families from the past 24 years will be on hand.
At least one food truck has committed to attend and the Groove Diggers band is donating time and energies to entertain.
“I’m sure they will have a good beat, but you can’t dance to it, because COVID doesn’t allow that,” Lavin said.
Provincial health regulations will be followed and volunteers will be checking proof of vaccination for those wanting to enter the Mary Winspear Centre.
Guests can grab food, a drink and a table and meet members of the team at a distance. There will also be a silent auction of a variety of items, including a pair of Harbour Air passes from Victoria to Vancouver and a package put together by Catherine Oudet, general manager of the Best Western Plus Emerald Isle. That features stays at the Emerald Isle, Sidney Pier Hotel and the Inn at Long Lake in Nanaimo, as well as a tasting the Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse in Central Saanich.
Fundraising head shaves, long associated with the Cops for Cancer tours around the province, will also be available at the event. Andre from The Gentleman’s Cave will be on hand to make it happen.
It’s all about raising funds to support children and families, cancer research and Camp Goodtimes where kids facing cancer can have some fun.
“You can empty your piggy bank, we’ll take it,” Lavin said.
For more information about activities, visit tourderock.ca/.
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