The 2019 campaign marked the 22nd year of the Cops for Cancer initiative and 18th annual Tour de North. Since their inception in 1997, Cops for Cancer fundraising and awareness-building cycling tours have raised $46.5 million, with $2.61 being raised in 2019.
The Cops for Cancer program, which is a partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and first responders across the country who engage communities while cycling across regions, is a fundraising effort for CCS.
The annual Tour de North fundraiser, which sees law enforcement and emergency personnel cycle 850 kilometres from Dawson Creek to Williams Lake, took place from Sept. 17-23. This year’s team included Quesnel community rider Chris Fedoruk.
The event raised $190,900 of its $310,000 goal (62 per cent), with proceeds being put towards pediatric cancer research and support programs.
In an interview with the Observer earlier this year Erin Reynolds, annual giving officer with the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. and Yukon Division, commented on why she feels donations may be down this year:
“The north has been hit hard with all the forestry curtailments especially, and it has had an impact on Tour de North,” she said. “We have half the team and half the money at this point, so it’s a little bit heartbreaking because I know that means half the dollars to the research piece, and that’s very concerning, but we can only do what we can do, right. We do the best we can with the resources we have, and we keep on.”
Despite a decline in donations this year, the Cops for Cancer Tour de North initiative was able to make a big difference in the lives of many. According to a report put out by the CCS at the end of December, 102 first responders cycled more than 3,570 kilometres, visiting 64 communities across the province raising over $2.61 million for childhood cancer research and support programs through Cops for Cancer.
One of the support programs supported by the funds raised by Cops for Cancer is Camp Goodtimes. The camp is a medically supervised recreation program for children and teens with cancer, along with their families, who may not otherwise be able to experience traditional camping activities. Thanks to donations raised by Tour de North, 438 British Columbians were able to attend the camp in 2019.
As one of the largest funders of pediatric cancer research in Canada, Cops for Cancer has contributed to pediatric cancer survival rates increasing from 71 per cent in the 1980s to more than 83 per cent today, according to the CCS.
As a result of the efforts of Cops for Cancer, along with other groups, individuals and initiatives that fundraise on behalf of CCS, it has become the largest national charitable funder of research into all types of cancer. According to a report from the CCS, in 2018, $38.9 million was invested by the organization into Canada’s most promising cancer research, of which $4.05 million was dedicated to childhood cancer.
According to the CCS report, a new study, which was funded with the support of a CCS Impact Grant, has significantly advanced precision medicine for infants with one of the most common types of brain tumour.
The study was led by Dr. Cynthia Hawkins, who, along with an international team of researchers, discovered that infant gliomas fall into three main subtypes. The report states that, “Dr. Hawkins’s research is enabling doctors to diagnose infant gliomas more accurately and select the most appropriate treatment plan for each unique tumour. This will help avoid unnecessary therapies and ensure that infants with gliomas receive the right treatments sooner, maximizing their chances of living a long and healthy life.”
Anyone interested donating to or learning more about the programs and initiatives run by the Canadian Cancer Society can visit the cancer.ca.