Everyone has a reason to ride.
For Steph McFarlane, it’s for her close friend, who died of stomach cancer at age 38.
For Andy Harward, it’s for his dad, who he lost to lung cancer while he was still a young boy.
For Scott Green and Aaron Murray, both their fathers were recently diagnosed with cancer. Murray’s dad is in remission, while Green’s dad is still undergoing treatment and is doing well.
For Steve Robinson, it’s for his family, including his two little girls, after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago.
The five Saanich police officers participating in this year’s Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock have all been intimately touched by cancer, and are pushing through their own challenges to do what they can to fight back against the disease.
“This is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my career,” Green says, after having barely scratched the surface in the journey to come that is Tour de Rock.
The 22-member team, made up of law enforcement officials from Vancouver Island and three media members, is training for September’s 14-day bicycle trek, that will take the team from one tip of Vancouver Island to the other.
Every year the tour generates more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research and Camp Goodtimes in Maple Ridge, a medically supported summer camp for kids with cancer and survivors of the disease.
“They are children, they are innocent and they are pure,” Robinson says about why he is participating in Tour de Rock. “They don’t understand why they can’t go outside to play in fear of catching simple colds that could kill them. They don’t understand that the countless surgeries and medications that violate their small bodies are an effort to save them,”
“They don’t understand that they are literally fighting for their lives, when they should be learning, laughing and enjoying them. But we are their protectors, we are their parents, we are their angels who know that childhood cancer is wrong.”
The riders all say they are most looking forward to meeting the children and families touched by the disease.
“It’s very motivating. It reinforces the need for these types of fundraisers to raise money for pediatric cancer research,” Green says.
“It makes you appreciate life that much more … and kids are so resilient. It’s amazing how adaptable they are, and what they can endure.”
McFarlane adds: “As a police officer, we’re trained to be proactive. This is the best way I can be proactive and try to stop this for other families.”
The officers are in the midst of training for the physically gruelling challenge of cycling 1,000 kilometres, which McFarlane says is going to help when it comes to dealing with the emotional side of things.
“I’ve already had moments where I’ve met the families of cancer patients, cancer survivors, and the way they look and us makes you realize that what you do is so important to so many people,” she says.
“They prepare us well for the physical part so we shouldn’t be distracted by the emotional part. That’s going to be just overwhelming.”