- BC Games
Generosity of the community touches water-logged riders
It's been the worst of times and, yet, the best of times for the 2013 Tour de Rock Cops For Cancer cyclists.
The weather has been by far the worst in the history of the tour, including showers when the fundraising entourage came through the valley Tuesday and Wednesday. The riders haven't caught much of a break throughout the final week of the 14-day odyssey.
"It's been brutal,'' said Kyle Slavin of Black Press, who rode on the tour last year and is serving as media coordinator this time.
By comparison last year, "we had an hour and a half of rain the entire tour and it was light, light rain,'' said Slavin.
Somehow the weather has made the resolve of the cyclists stronger. First and foremost on their minds has been the children who've experienced cancer or are still enduring it.
Tuesday's valley visit included stops at Chemainus Elementary School, Lake Cowichan School, Palsson Elementary, Drinkwater Elementary, Tansor Elementary, Queen Margaret's School and Beverly Corners in Duncan.
At each stop, tour riders presented a plaque that read; "A person never stands so tall as when they kneel to help a child.''
Amelie McLean, a Grade 4 student at QMS, and Matt Kercher, 16, of Lake Cowichan were honourary junior riders for valley portions of the tour. Both know the trials and tribulations of cancer from first-hand experience.
The Tansor stop marked the first-time ever for the tour at the school. "They're pretty pumped,'' said principal Joseph Boudreau. "It's good for the community.''
The students had a busy time fundraising for both the Terry Fox Fun and Tour de Rock. Tansor student Breanna Mayea was picked to sit on the back of rider Kevin Nunn while he completed 50 pushups.
At Queen Margaret's School, proceeds from Civvies Day, a bake sale and donations amounted to $1,891.70 for the campaign.
"In actual fact, we managed to bring that up to $2,000 this afternoon,'' announced Susan Cruikshank of QMS Tuesday afternoon. "The great thing is we had a lot of fun raising that money for you.''
The riders arrived at Beverly Corners slightly ahead of schedule.
"We were doing a bunch of head shaves before we were rudely interrupted by the arrival of the team,'' joked emcee Al Siebring.
Carla Davies of the Cowichan Valley Dragon Divas presented a cheque for $500 on behalf of the group and a large cheque for $29,000 was given to the riders on behalf of community fundraising.
Several people donated money from head shavings and members of the Cowichan Valley Capitals stirred up additional funds not only with head shavings, but leg shavings as well.
"I'm doing it for a good cause,'' said Caps' defenceman Reilly O'Connor. "A friend of mine had breast cancer. She beat it.''
Wednesday morning's valley stops before hitting the Malahat included Frances Kelsey School, Shawnigan Lake School and the Mill Bay Centre.
Shawnigan students were out in full force for a rousing reception to greet the riders.
"We had our housekeeper two years ago, Elaine, got cancer,'' said Clare Addison, part of a supportive group from Stranthcona House.
Inside Mellor Hall, there was a sea of pink as students wore shirts with the word "Connect'' on the front. The back provided a definition: "to be or become joined, to unite, to establish a relationship between.''
"We all know the world needs people to put others before self,'' said headmaster David Robertson.
"We've got some T-shirts to give to you to connect you to us. It means to connect to the cause, connect to others, connect to possibilities.''
"Every year when the Tour de Rock comes cycling through our front gates, I am truly amazed by what they do,''' said Head of School Max Whiffin. "The Tour de Rock is something they do to raise awareness for a cause that everyone can connect to.''
Student Sierra Farr presented the tour with a $30,000 cheque from Shawnigan fundraising. Head shaves on students Mac Dewar and Clark Finley and field hockey coach Kelly Koepp accounted for more than $13,000 of the total.
"I've always wanted to do it since I was a teenager,'' said Koepp of her head shaving. "My mom is a survivor of cancer and I lost an aunt to it and two close friends have survived it.
"It was amazing how many people came out to support it. I had donations from people I haven't seen in years.''
At Mill Bay Centre, the community poured out more money to the tour in large and small chunks, with $3,200 from the Kerry Park Islanders hockey team and $3,100 from the Shawnigan Lake RCMP among them.
Five-year-old Antonio Iannidinardo donated $53 that he raised selling rice krispie squares at his home in his driveway.