Cancer fight personal for Cowichan Valley Tour de Rock riders

Jaleesa Nardino hadn’t ridden a bike since she was 10 years old.

Jaleesa Nardino

Jaleesa Nardino hadn’t ridden a bike since she was 10 years old.

But when the young auxiliary constable in the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP was given the opportunity to participate in the 2016 Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock event this fall, she jumped at the opportunity.

Nardino said she started training three times a week in March, and feels she has sufficiently built up her stamina for the long two-week bike ride on Vancouver Island.

“It’s lots of work, but I love it,” Nardino, 25, said while setting up at Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse in Duncan for a fundraiser for the event recently.

“I’m the manager of PetSmart in Nanaimo as well, so between my full-time job and preparing for the Tour de Rock, I sometimes don’t have my dinner until 10:30 in the evenings.”

Nardino is one of 17 people, consisting mostly of police officers from the Island, who will be participating in this year’s Tour de Rock.

She grew up in Duncan and is now working in Nanaimo, but she travels south to Duncan several times each week for her work with the RCMP detachment.

Nardino is currently in the middle of the application process to be a full-time RCMP officer.

The Tour de Rock team is spending the summer training on their bikes and fundraising before setting out from Port Alice on Sept. 24 for the 1,100-kilometre tour through Island communities before it ends in Victoria on Oct. 7.

The year’s Tour de Rock will be raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society and its pediatric cancer research and support programs, like Camp Goodtimes for kids with cancer.

The Tour de Rock has raised more than $21 million for the fight against cancer since it first began in 1998.

Nardino said the fight against cancer is personal for her.

She has an uncle who is fighting the disease, as well as a close friend who developed cancer when just 17 years old.

“Our individual goal is to raise $5,000, and I have raised $3,000 so far from friends and family, as well as fundraisers like beer and burger nights,” Nardino said.

“The cause is important to me, and I like to give back to the community.”

Felix Charette-Thibault

Doing everything he can to  fight cancer is very important for Felix Charette-Thibault.

Charette-Thibault, who is originally from Quebec, has been an RCMP officer with the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment for about a year.

He has been practising to participate in the 2016 Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock event this fall.

“At home [in Quebec], I always enjoyed riding my bike, either to go for a ride with friends or family, or simply to admire the landscapes,” Charette-Thibault said.

“When I arrived [in Duncan], I became aware of the Tour de Rock event which is an incredible event of biking across the Island, helping to raise money for children with cancer and visit communities along the Island, and volunteered to take part,” he said.

Charette-Thibault said he has been touched by cancer in his life.

He said his grandmother lost her battle against cancer, But his mother was more fortunate, winning her fight against breast cancer.

“During those times, I realized that fighting cancer isn’t only about the disease itself, it’s also demanding a lot of energy from the person to go through the treatments and it affects all the people around us,” Charette-Thibault said.

“I guess we are never prepared to learn that one of our family members has cancer. I am fortunate to still have my mother with me and hope to enjoy her company for many years to come.”

The goal of the Tour de Rock event is to raise money for cancer research, with some funds earmarked to bring children with cancer to Camp GoodTimes in Maple Ridge, which allow the children to go out from the hospital for a week and enjoy outdoor activities with other children.

Charette-Thibault said he’s pleased that the money raised from this event, $21 million since it began in 1998, has helped to fund leading edge cancer research that is improving cancer treatments, preventing cancer and saving lives.

He has raised almost $3,000 of his personal fundraising goal of $5,000 for this year’s event.

“Please help me reaching my fundraising goal,” Charette-Thibault said.

“Every donation takes us one step further in the fight against cancer. Please share my link ( with your friends and family and make a difference for the children with cancer today.”