Cancer causes calamity to everyone that it affects, even more so when those touched by it are children, and that’s what has inspired Const. Wes Richens of Duncan to take up the Cops for Cancer banner this year.
Cops for Cancer’s Tour de Rock is back for another trek across Vancouver Island which will start in Port Alice on Sept. 23, and conclude in Victoria on Oct. 6. Richens, who has been with the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP for seven years, will be one of the officers and emergency services personnel pedalling their hearts out to support those with pediatric cancer.
“I want to do it is because I don’t like to see people suffer, especially kids,” said Richens. “A lot of the time we deal with adults, so for me to be able to take the time and help kids out means a lot to me. I have two kids of my own, and I’m fortunate that both my kids are healthy. I just want to help. I feel like I’m doing something by raising this money to help support cancer research, and sending these kids to Camp Goodtimes to just be kids again.”
Tour de Rock, which was first set in motion in 1997, typically raises $1 million each year, and has already raised $27 million to date. Each participant is encouraged to raise a minimum of $6,000 which supports and sends children with cancer to Camp Goodtimes, in Maple Ridge, in July.
“We get to go over as a team for the day on July 11, and see what the camp is all about,” said Richens.
Richens has set his personal bar a little higher, aiming to raise $20,000. Those that want to contribute and help Richens conquer his goal can do so on his personal Cops for Cancer page sponsored through the Canadian Cancer Society.
Like many people, Richens has seen first hand the catastrophe of cancer up close and personal.
“In Grade 7 a friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia. She ended up beating it, but then it returned the following year and she ended up passing away,” said Richens. “My grandmother also passed away from cancer and my mother had breast cancer.”
Richens said that Tour de Rock is something he has always wanted to do and found inspiration in the experiences shared by his fellow officers, and field coach.
“It’s just that feeling that you are truly making a difference, you are actually making an impact on somebody,” he said. “The cool thing about Tour de Rock is that each rider is paired up with an honourary rider that is currently battling cancer, and we get to ride for them. We get to meet them and their families, and be in their lives for seven months and hopefully longer. I’ve talked to guys,whose honourary rider went into remission and beat cancer, and that relationship between the two of them is still strong today.”
Participants will be paired up with their honourary rider later in May. Richens has already started his rigorous training for the 1,200 kilometre, 14-day annual cycling tour across the island, and said this tour will be his first time on a road bike and that his training for Tour de Rock has been quite the experience. Tuesday nights, riders practice hill climbs and the right gear to be in, while on Thursdays the goal is speed.
On Sundays, participants practice going the distance. Richens said that his last Sunday practice the team had pedalled 55 km. They average an extra 10 km every practice.
“I think the biggest takeaway from this tour is the education component, which is the unfortunate reality that there are countless children and families that have to deal with this,” said Richens. “Everybody can make a difference, and I think as a community, and as adults it is our responsibility to help these kids when they are in need, and that a simple donation can make their lives so much brighter.”