Thomas Ip isn’t preparing to cycle more than 800 kilometres across northern B.C. this fall for the scenery, or to build up his quads.
No, he’s doing it for the kids.
Ip, a constable with the Royal Canadian Mountain Police based out of Fort St. James has joined the Tour de North cycling team, joining emergency personnel from all over northern B.C. to raise funds in the battle against pediatric cancer.
“In high school, a classmate of mine passed away from leukemia,” he said. “I do believe this is a very worthy cause and that parents of kids with cancer go through a great deal of effort to help their child.”
The seven-day Tour de North, running Sept. 14 to 20, will bring riders to Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Chetwynd, Powder King, Mackenzie, Prince George, Quesnel, and Williams Lake. Twenty-three riders including RCMP officiers, Canadian Border Services Agency officials, Ministry of Forests employees, sheriffs, firefighter, government staff and community members, are scheduled to take part.
This will be Ip’s first time doing a ride of this level, as he has not biked in the past 8 years. He’s been training 2 to 3 times a week rain or shine since his coach recommended he join.
“It’s been a learning experience, but I am honoured to be doing it,” he said. “Kids who have been through such difficult things will be there to welcome us so we train hard so we can be there and greet these children with energy and hope for them.”
All money raised during the cycle will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society, the largest national charitable funder of childhood cancer research.
“In 2019, we funded $3.22 million dollars into pediatric cancer research across the country. Thanks to research advancements, over 83 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer will survive five years or more beyond diagnosis,” the cancer society website states.
This tour is one of five tours for pediatric cancer funds, part of the Cops for Cancer fundraiser. In 2021, Cops for Cancer raised over $1.2 million and Tour de North raised over $140,000.
Participants have a fundraising minimum of $3,000 and are required to hit fundraising goals while training for the final ride Ip told Black Press Media. He explained the first milestone for this month is 30 per cent at $900 and the next milestones will follow in August and September.
The roots of the Tour de North were planted in June, 1994. RCMP Sgt. Gary Goulet met Lyle Jorgenson, a 5-year-old boy who had cancer, being ridiculed at school because of hair loss due to chemotherapy. Goulet was touched by the boy’s story and decided start the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer campaign. It began with a group of Edmonton officers willing to shave their heads to show kids that being bald was cool.
Cops for Cancer proceeds will go towards research (80 per cent) and support programs (20 per cent), like Camp Goodtimes Ip said.
“(That is) where they can have fun with their family and other children who are suffering from similar things without having to talk about it directly if they’re not ready to,” he said. “They can just go be kids and free of the stresses of their illness.”
During the actual September ride, honourary members will also participate including kids, teens and families going through a cancer journey or who have in the past, he said. Some will participate in part of the cycle or join alongside participants in a vehicle supporting the cause.
If you see any of the Cops for Cancer Tour de North crew in your community, feel free to cheer in support of the cause, Ip said.
“It doesn’t seem like much but it helps boost morale and sometimes that’s what you need to get through a difficult hill.”