After months and months of preparation, Quesnel’s Chris Fedoruk and the Cops for Cancer Tour de North team will be riding into Quesnel this weekend.
The Cops for Cancer Tour de North began Tuesday, Sept. 17 in Dawson Creek, and the team will arrive in Quesnel Sunday, Sept. 22 around 5 p.m. There will be a photo opportunity at Canadian Tire around 5 p.m., and the riders will be at Canadian Tire for about half an hour before heading to the Masonic Hall for a potluck dinner put on by RCMP staff and community members.
As the riders begin their final day of the seven-day Tour de North, there will be a breakfast for the riders Monday, Sept. 23 at 7 a.m. at Integris Credit Union, and the team members will make a school visit at Quesnel Junior School at 8:45 a.m. before making their way down to Williams Lake.
The team has a private lunch in McLeese Lake on the way to Williams Lake, where the team will have a photo opportunity at Canadian Tire at 5 p.m. and will celebrate the end of the tour with a finale dinner at 7 p.m. at Mr. Mike’s.
This year’s team is made up of 12 riders, including Fedoruk, who works at Integris Credit Union.
“We have a very small team, and I will call them small but mighty,” said Erin Reynolds, annual giving officer with the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. and Yukon Division.
This year’s tour sees the riders cycle about 850 kilometres from Dawson Creek to Williams Lake in seven days, stopping in each community.
The tour raises money to fund pediatric cancer research and support programs like Camp Goodtimes for children and teens with cancer.
“The reason people are doing this is for kids,” said Reynolds. “It’s a pretty big time commitment to fundraise and train what is required to do that distance, especially when you come from a background where there’s little riding foundation, so it’s quite an undertaking. Each of these riders, hats off to them for their efforts.”
Since 1997, Cops for Cancer has raised more than $42 million for pediatric cancer research and Camp Goodtimes, and 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 Canadian Cancer Society.
Reynolds says while it is hard to help people see how much impact they are having when they donate to Cops for Cancer, it is an important part of the tour.
“Whatever we can do to raise awareness around the need for pediatric cancer research, we try to do,” she said. “It’s a never-ending need because we are making inroads every year. It’s making a big difference, the work we’re doing to fundraise, and the hardest thing is to help the public understand the impact they’re having in the research world.”
During the Tour de North, riders also spread messages about making good, healthy choices.
“We visit schools on the way and have a chance to chat with them briefly about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and it’s empowering the kids to know they can make an impact,” said Reynolds. “Every little bit helps, and kids can help kids — that’s a big deal for kids to know that.”
This year is the 18th Tour de North.
Reynolds acknowledges this year has been “a really tough year” for Tour de North, as participating and fundraising is down, but she wants to celebrate the hard work of the riders and volunteers and the great support they have received in the north.
“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.”
For more information about Cops for Cancer or to donate online, visit convio.cancer.ca/site/TR/CopsforCancer/COPS_BC_even_?fr_id=25285&pg=entry.