Tour de Rock riders give a smile and a wave during a training ride near Nanaimo last month. The team will have a send off Saturday morning at Thrifty Foods at Admirals Walk in View Royal before heading to Port Alice to begin this year’s tour.

Tour de Rock riders give a smile and a wave during a training ride near Nanaimo last month. The team will have a send off Saturday morning at Thrifty Foods at Admirals Walk in View Royal before heading to Port Alice to begin this year’s tour.

Tour de Rock takes on the Island

Police, guest riders set off on emotional 1,000 km journey against cancer

Composure is expected of Oak Bay cop Dorothy Junio, but it’s hard not to get a little misty-eyed walking into the Oak Bay High gymnasium when 1,500 kids are screaming for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team.

For her last two years in the role, the former school liaison officer was swept into the excitement with the Oak Bay teens as they went head-to-head in a fundraising face-off with Reynolds secondary – an annual challenge that has seen students at both schools generate tens of thousands of dollars for the cause that fights childhood cancer.

“That’s what drew me into this to begin with,” said Junio. “I cannot believe the passion and the emotions that go along with this. It’s contagious. The real purpose comes out when you see kids so dedicated to the cause.”

So Junio, 50, along with her husband Jett, a Saanich police officer, became the first husband and wife duo to join the team of police officers on the 1,000-kilometre journey down Vancouver Island set to leave from Port Alice on Sunday.

And while Junio was physically fit leading up to the Tour, the commitment meant adjusting to the balancing act of managing three training sessions per week and attending fundraisers with Cops for Cancer, on top of her work as a police officer, business owner and parent of two teens – who have had to “fend for themselves,” she said, while both parents have been tied up.

“It’s just been a blur,” Junio said. “We did it one day at a time. That’s how we managed.”

“I don’t know how I would have done it without (Jett),” she added. “We motivate each other to get to the events, the training and complain about all the aches and pains (together).”

That close-knit and supportive team mentality reached beyond the Junios to 15 other riders from across the Island – a group of police officers, media members and special guests who came from a variety of fitness levels and backgrounds to pursue the shared goal of fighting pediatric cancer.

“We really gelled together as a team,” said Jose Bingham, a 38-year-old VicPD officer. “We’ve grown really close and we’re ready to get out there.”

After eight months of training, media rider and Saanich News reporter Kyle Slavin, echoes the sentiment.

“At some point you get into a team mindset, which is really neat, where you stop thinking for yourself and you’re thinking about the person in front of you and the person behind you and beside you to make sure they’re not struggling, that they are with you, or they are with the team,” Slavin said. “Once everyone gets to that point, it’s really neat because you feel like a team.”

Slavin, at 25, hadn’t been on a bicycle in years prior to joining the team and feels fully prepared for the Island-wide journey.

“They’ve made the training schedule quite incremental so that you’re able to handle it if you’re 20 years old or 67 years old,” he said.

The team’s two special guests, former junior rider Matt Webb, who was diagnosed with Burkitts lymphoma at age three, and Bob “the Bobfather” McDonald, who has been a dedicated volunteer trainer and support crew member of the team since 2008, are both of those ages, respectively.

McDonald puts a lot of other riders to shame, said Saanich police’s Jana Sawyer – another of the team’s 50-year-old contingent.

“I’ve always tried to stay in shape but biking is very different,” said Sawyer, who rides without full function in one of her lungs after several bouts of pneumonia. “I hadn’t biked in probably close to 40 years.”

But any setbacks, aches and pains pale in comparison to the motivation behind the ride: supporting children with cancer.

“The thought of my son and daughter being sick like some of the kids we’ve met on tour is absolutely devastating,” said Bingham, a father of two, “so the opportunity to take part has been really special.”

“Every person on tour is going to have their ‘A ha moment’ or their moment of clarity where they realize why they’re doing it and from that point on it’ll be overwhelming,” Slavin said.

“It’s going to be the moment when a three-year-old with cancer comes up and hugs you, or comes up and thanks you, or it’s going to be when you’re in a school gym and you see 100 people who are 14, 15, 16 and they all have shaved heads, and you’re just going to burst into tears and from that point on your perspective of Tour will be that much different.”

Since its inception in 1998 the tour has raised $16.6 million toward pediatric cancer research and programs that help children with cancer and their families through the Canadian Cancer Society.

Riders will have a farewell event at outside Thrifty Foods at Admiral’s Walk on Saturday, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., before heading to Port Alice.

The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock sets off from Port Alice on Sept. 23 and arrives in Victoria on Oct. 5.

Check out the Tour schedule at tourderock.ca and keep up on Tour news at bclocalnews.com/tour-de-rock and enter to win a $500 Thrifty Foods gift card.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, here seen in late September, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is spear-heading an annual seaweed festival scheduled for May 13-21, 2021, with Sidney council have signed off in principle. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

Council supports the idea in principle following a presentation by Cascadia Seaweed

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read