Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders rolled into Sooke on Wednesday afternoon to the cheers of residents and a host of schoolchildren at Journey middle school.
It was the last stop of the day for the tour riders on the third last day of the ride that started on Sept. 22. That’s when 22 riders left Port Alice to raise money for cancer research in what was the 20th year for the fundraising effort.
“It’s heartening to see the level of support and excitement that the ride has generated in our community,” said Al Beddows, the president of the Sooke Lions Club.
The club, in association with the Harbourside Lions and the District of Sooke, hosted the RCMP Musical Ride this summer in a fundraising initiative to support Tour de Rock and, at welcoming ceremony at Journey Middle School gym, Beddows presented the riders with a cheque for $30,000 in support of cancer research. That donation was the single largest donation but joined a host of other contributions from the community to add to the Tour de Rock’s fundraising efforts.
“It was wonderful to be able to support this worthwhile cause,” said Beddows.
“I look forward to the day when this kind of event is no longer necessary and when no child has to suffer through cancer.”
Mayor Maja Tait was on hand to honour the riders and the host of volunteers in the community that all worked to raise funds for the cause.
“The energy at Journey Middle school was just amazing today. We have such a bright future with all of these amazing kids,” Tait said.
“I just want to thank the Lions club and the Harbourside Lions and all the individual sponsors who all worked together for his worthwhile cause.
The riders made themselves available to the people in attendance at the event to offer their own perspectives on the Tour de Rock and the children of the school got in the spirit, cheering on the team’s mascot and participating in the team cheer.
Several children volunteered to have their heads shaved , laughing as some team members with artistically shaved heads of their own pitched in on the barbering duties.
But it was the one-on-one contacts between the riders and the children that, for many, was the most meaningful part of the event.
One of the riders, Derek Tolmie of the Victoria Police Department, said that his experience as a rider filled him with mixed emotions.
“Meeting all these kids is just tremendous but we look forward to the day that we don’t have to ride,” said Tolmie.
“I just think that Sooke has been very supportive and I want to thank them and all the people who have supported us.”
Allison Roberts, a rider representing the Parks Service said that the ride was the most amazing experience she’d ever had.
“My teammates are so great. All these people are so wonderful. I’ve come away with 21 lifelong friends from this team and countless new friends along the way,” she said.
It’s the 20th year for the fundraising ride that, since 1998 has raised more than $24 million.