The 17-member, 2016 Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team has been named, including Port Alberni RCMP member Brady Mathison, from Qualicum Beach.
The team of 14 Vancouver Island police officers, one radio personality and two guest riders will cycle the length of Vancouver Island in September and October, raising money for pediatric cancer research and support.
The members all received their Coast Capital Savings training jerseys and their Trek bikes at a May 6 announcement.
“It’s such an honour to get to put on this Tour de Rock jersey for the first time,” said Todd Mason from the Victoria Police Department in a news release. “It’s so much more than just a cycling jersey; it represents all the communities and supporters from Vancouver Island working together to help kids with cancer — it is overwhelming.”
Two special guest riders join the effort this year, Mena Westhaver, mother of Jack, a young junior team member who was diagnosed with cancer just before his sixth birthday, along with Jack’s oncology nurse Anne Carrelli.
Jack endured three and a half years of treatment for his leukemia and his one light of hope was his visit to camp Goodtimes each year and the Tour de Rock.
“It warms my heart to see the dedication, personal sacrifices of everyone involved in the ride and the authenticity of the people who embrace the need to support children during a cancer protocol,” said Westhaver. “I look forward to the opportunity as a rider to support others that feel there is no hope, who are frightened like I was when I learned my child had cancer in his body, and to ultimately raise awareness and funds that will see the end of cancer.”
Carrelli was by Jack’s side during treatment at the Victoria General pediatric oncology outpatient unit. “These children are strong, brave, and resilient and a daily inspiration to me,” she said. “I strive to champion their needs through the health system and we work closely with our oncology team at BCCH.”
Since 1988 the Tour de Rock has been creating community solidarity with children who have cancer. The collective hard work of all Vancouver Island communities and schools in their unwavering support for Tour de Rock allows children on Vancouver Island to attend Camp Goodtimes — a special summer camp for kids with a history of cancer — and also funds pediatric cancer research that changes their lives.
This year in Canada close to 920 children under the age of 14 will be diagnosed with cancer; 117 of those precious children will lose their battle. And for the children who beat cancer, many will suffer with long-term and life-threatening effects from their cancer treatment. Over the past 15 years, thanks to Cops for Cancer, the Society has invested well over $40 fund advancements in pediatric cancer research. This includes finding safer, gentler treatments for childhood cancer as well as research that helps children live better, fuller lives after cancer.
The Tour de Rock team will spend the next five months training on the bike and fundraising, before setting out on September 24 for the 1,100-km tour of the rock (Vancouver Island) beginning in Port Alice and ending in Victoria on October 7.
— Submitted by Tour de Rock