Cycling through rain, twenty-five emergency personnel and community riders stopped in Vanderhoof for the Cops for Cancer Tour de North’s first day on Sept. 16.
Raising funds towards pediatric cancer research and Camp Goodtimes with the annual seven-day cycling journey to Prince Rupert, the Canadian Cancer Society is well ahead of their $275,000 goal so far this year, said event coordinator Erin Reynolds.
“It’s so heartwarming and satisfying,” Reynolds said. “We’re constantly reminded of the families and kids and it’s helping them…that’s why it feels so good.”
Camp Goodtimes is a medically supervised summer facility in Maple Ridge that provides a recreation experience for children with cancer and their families.
“It’s more and more recognized that the whole family unit is broken up by the disease,” Reynolds said. “That’s a place that siblings can go talk with other siblings, families can talk to each other about it, and now they know they’re not the only one.
“That’s why Camp Goodtimes is so profound.”
Greeting about 100 community members at Riverside Park, rider Robert Pictou from Terrace shared his experience in visiting Camp Goodtimes this year.
“A child was walking around in a pair of shorts, showing her prosthetic underneath,” Pictou recalled. “She was comfortable enough in Camp Goodtimes to be a kid.
“It’s not the healing on the outside, but the healing on the inside, and that’s why we are here.”
Cathy Scott from Fraser Lake’s ambulance service and Sgt. Svend Nielsen from Vanderhoof’s RCMP detachment are the area’s two representing riders — both are participating for the first time.
In the past, Scott lost several close family friends, including an eight-year-old, to cancer, and in the past year alone, cancer also took seven of her friends’ fathers.
“I like to help in the first place, and doing something for kids always seem to be a good idea,” Scott said. “What I do helps one kid go to camp or live better.
“If we all do a little bit, it makes a difference.”
In preparation for the ride, she rode 2,300 kilometres since spring. “Like to Vancouver and back,” Scott said. “I just feel very blessed and thankful for the chance to be here with all these amazing people.”
For Nielsen, whose mother survived from lung breast cancer and his father-in-law died from cancer in 2006, the ride has always been something that he wanted to do.
“I’m a little sore and cold, but compared to what these kids go through, it’s nothing,” Nielsen said. “You read these stories about the kids and you want to put them in a better situation, whether it’s riding or raising funds.
“It’s just worth doing.”
Sharon Unger from Vanderhoof’s ambulance service will be riding with the team for one day from Hazelton to Terrace. Losing her father to cancer when she was 25, she rode three tours in the past and have visited Camp Goodtimes.
“It’s a place for families to regroup and get together,” Unger said. “There’s nobody left behind.
“When you have a sick kid, a sibling can get left out.”