If the glorious sunshine didn’t give them a boost, the reception the Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley team got at Aldergrove Community Secondary certainly did.
Students from ACSS and Betty Gilbert Middle School cheered loudly as the 22 peace officers set off on their nine-day fundraising bike ride, which will take them west to Delta and east as far as Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon.
The ride, of more than 800 kilometers in nine days, is to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society’s efforts to fight pediatric cancer.
After the team rode into the gymnasium, they received necklaces of beads that they’ll wear and add to for each day of the ride.
Team captain Chris Rosenberger, a border services officer, explained that the riders will get beads for each day ridden, for helping each other out, and for other things that take place along the way.
“If it rains we get a blue bead,” said Rosenberger. “If we crash, and it happens, we get a black bead.”
The beads are about more than marking the milestones along the ride.
Children in cancer treatment in B.C. can enter a bead program that keeps track of their treatments.
Rosenberger showed one of the bead necklaces from a junior team member. Holding it at arms length, the long necklace almost touched the floor.
“All of the different beads on this necklace were earned in the most difficult, painful, horrible way you can ever imagine,” said Rosenberger.
“Every time she got a needle poke, she earned a bead,” he said. “Every time she got a chemo treatment, or a lumbar puncture, which is where they stick a needle in your spine, every time she spent a night, two nights in the hospital, she earned a bead. She earned her beads in a way that nobody should ever have to.”
The necklaces are a symbol of solidarity with the kids in treatment.
The riders stop and meet junior team members, kids who are in treatment or remission, along the route. Emmily Eckert, a junior team member who battled cancer at age five and again at age nine, has been a junior team member for eight years.
She handed out the necklaces, giving a hug to each team member.
“My experience over the last eight years has been something I’ll never forget,” she said.
Insp. Murray Power of the Langley RCMP reminded the students and dignitaries that the fundraising that goes on is not just needed, it has been successful.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 82 per cent of children survive cancer.
Power thanked the officers on the team for their work.
“You are a shining positive example,” he said. “You are admired by your peers, who look in awe at what you have accomplished.”
Each team member must raise $5,000 just to take part in the ride.
“I’m not aware of very many projects that award their people with an 800 kilometer bike ride,” Power said.
The students at Aldergrove Secondary were about to head out for their Terry Fox Run after the visit by the Cops for Cancer team.
“Think about the purpose behind what you’re doing,” urged Principal John Pusic.
Students at ACSS were asked last week if they wanted to help the cause of the Cops for Cancer, when Rosenberger spoke at the school about his own five-year-old daughter Sophie’s battle with cancer.
Student Blake Cleeve organized a stationary bike ride fundraiser. For several days, teams of students have been tracking their mileage on bikes set up in the school’s auditorium.
With help from friends including Travis Couture and Arianne Qanbery, the students planned to ride 800 kilometers, raising $1 for each kilometer.
Cleeve said the teams had ridden more than 650 kilometers as of Thursday morning, and they were hoping to finish that last 150 kilometers by the end of the day.
The team was spending most of Thursday in Aldergrove and the rest of Langley. Their ride ends in a closing ceremonies at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on the afternoon of Oct. 4. More about the ride and its route can be found at www.copsforcancerbc.ca.
@ Copyright 2013