Last years Victoria Fire Department cycling team took on the 200km Ride to Conquer Cancer on the mainland. This picture was taken right after the team crossed the finish line. (Photo submitted by Jeff Cullen)

Victoria Fire Department honours three former chiefs with Ride to Conquer Cancer

Gala For Hope takes place June 15, ahead of the 200 km ride

In a sea of hundreds of cyclists the mood seems light at first glance. People are smiling and laughing but there’s a reason the Ride to Conquer Cancer draws a huge crowd every year.

For Rich Fryer of the Victoria Fire Department, the event has as many emotional up and downs as the hills he and the fire department’s cycling team have ridden for the past two years.

“We’ve lost three chiefs … in three years, in Victoria alone,” says Fryer.

RELATED: Victoria Fire Department battles cancer with Gala For Hope

Doug Angrove, a former fire chief, was diagnosed with brain cancer and eventually succumbed to the disease in May 2017. While Angrove was in the midst of his battle, Fryer went to see him in the hospital and knew he needed to do something that would make some sort of an impact.

At the same time, Richard Couch — another former chief — wanted to do his part and chose to do the 200-kilometre ride with the rest of the team. Six months later, Couch was diagnosed with cancer and died a short time later.

Stan Thame, retired battalion chief for the department, also died in December 2018 following a battle with cancer.

“You’re there, having a good time, riding with all our buddies and then you hear the stories and it comes back to the reality of why you’re actually doing it,” says Fryer. “You realize why people are putting so much energy into it.”

The Gala For Hope, happening on June 15, is the main fundraiser the Victoria Fire Department takes on before heading to the Ride to Conquer Cancer that happens on the Lower Mainland in August. The name takes on a special meaning as the 200-km ride ends in the community of Hope.

READ ALSO: Victoria Fire Department hosts ride for World Cancer Day

Jeff Cullen, of the Victoria Fire Department, says that while it’s an emotional experience, it’s a cause that hits home for most of the firefighters.

“Our chief was literally in the hospital sick and trying to fight cancer,” says Cullen.

“There’s never going to be a better time [to take this on] than when we’re having to go visit someone in our career who’s dying so that really spurred the whole thing.”

Firefighters have a nine per cent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population, according to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.

“We look after ourselves a lot better than the older guys did because we’re more aware of the issues, but our fires are also more toxic than theirs,” says Fryer.

For Fryer, the ride takes on another meaning as he lost his best friend to brain cancer in 2004. After experiencing headaches, Fryer’s best friend went to the doctors. While waiting in emergency he had a seizure and two weeks later he died.

“He didn’t even know he had a tumour,” says Fryer.

For more information on the Gala For Hope or to purchase tickets visit eventbrite.ca.

Just Posted

Man who killed Langford teen attended her memorial service, demonstrates little remorse

Parole Board of Canada documents reveal factors in parole decision

UPDATED: Oak Bay father takes stand, denies killing young daughters

Andrew Berry has plead not guilty to the December 2017 deaths of his two daughters

Victoria contractors file civil claims for work on Sooke Tim Hortons, Petro Canada

Contractors file civil suits against Petromaxx, T’Sou-ke First Nation

Relative of man found dead in Saanich says he was missing for years

RCMP and a private detective had been searching for him since 2012

Saanich Police warn of counterfeit money being used

Several fake $100 bills have been reported in Greater Victoria

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Retired B.C. fisherman wins record $60M Lotto Max jackpot

Joseph Katalinic won the biggest Lotto Max prize ever awarded

Island manslaughter suspect found not guilty in Supreme Court

Court accepts accused’s argument of self-defence for 2017 incident in Courtenay

Most Read