Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock wraps up after 12 days of touring the Island

Friday was the last day of the 2021 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock ride, and the alumni riders peddled their way through the capital region.

On the field at Oak Bay High School, they received an overwhelming welcome.

“It’s incredible,” said CTV’s Scott Cunningham, a 2019 alumni rider. “I’m so happy to be invited back.”

Cunningham is back for the final day of the alumni ride during this prolonged pandemic.

“COVID didn’t stop cancer and that’s why the tour continues,” said Cunningham.

The support for the tour has continued as well.

“We raised $37,000,” said Coleen, who is a fundraiser and student at Oak Bay High School.

The schools efforts yielded $37,748, to be exact, all raised in just three and half weeks.

Next, it was off to Reynolds Secondary School in Saanich.

When the team arrived at the school, the principal couldn’t give them a fundraising total as the money was still rolling in. In the end, Reynolds narrowly surpassed Oak Bay’s total, with $38,338.

One of the tour’s last stops before the grand finale at The Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney was at the Bottle Depot - Return It Centre in Saanich. Through its dedicated charity bins, the centre raised nearly $27,000.

“(That) represents 268,827 returnable beverage containers,” said Adam Boswick, the centre’s chief operating officer.

All the money raised goes towards the fight against pediatric cancer or helps send children going through cancer treatment to Camp Goodtimes.

2016 alumni rider Mena Westhaver’s son Jack was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2009. Her whole family had the opportunity to participate in the family camp program at Camp Goodtimes.

“I can’t even put enough words to it,” said Westhaver. “It’s a safe place where parents don’t have to worry about their children who are going through very invasive, high-risk treatment.”

“It’s just magical,” Westhaver added.

“We need to keep the magic alive until we can get back to a normal year,” said Mike Gonzalez, part of the Tour de Rock support team and digital media lead.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s tour was scaled back. Alumni riders would come back to ride the leg of the tour that went through their home communities, with each rider generally participating in just one day.

Gonzalez is on the support team and has been on this year’s tour for its entire 1,100-kilometre length. He says the wonder of the Tour de Rock can’t be found on a bike. It’s found in the small communities up and down the island that come out every year and show their support.

“The magic of Tour de Rock is in communities (like) Comox, where Molly, who is 9 years old, shaved her head in front of the entire student body,” said Gonzalez. “They cheered her name for 30 minutes as she shaved her head.”

The tour is really about communities coming together, big or small, with the common goal of raising money to fight a disease that has not yet been beaten.

Next year’s ride will be the 25th edition of the annual event, which has raised nearly $30 million since it began.