by Debra Lynn
Audrey Clark-Surtees is determined to raise $20,000 for shaving her head for cancer research at this year’s Tour de Rock ride on Sept. 23 when it stops in Port Alice, and when all is said and done, it looks like she will be reaching her goal and then some.
So far, Clark-Surtees has managed to raise a little over $16,000. She has also received an additional $600 in pledges and will receive the proceeds from a Lion’s Club 50/50 raffle the night of the dinner.
She said that she even received 50 cents from a little boy who “handed me dimes and nickels, and he said, ‘I want to help you help the little kids with cancer.’ Yes, I cried!”
She set her mind on $20,000 because, the last time she did this in 2008, she raised $15,000. Her then husband promised her he would also shave his head as well if she reached that amount.
Tour de Rock has been happening every year since 1998. This year there will be 19 riders from law enforcement, emergency services, and media. They will spend two weeks biking from Port Alice to Victoria, visiting several towns and cities on the way, to raise funds for cancer research and Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp for children with cancer. Each place they stop at they are treated to breakfast, barbeques, and/or dinners or other benefits such as overnight stays at motels. In Port Alice, the riders sleep at the community centre and then are treated to breakfast and a dinner that includes other fundraising activities such as a silent auction and head shave. Dinner ends up being a fun night for all, while also being a format to battle a nemesis of our time. Whenever the cyclists pass by schools, they drop in and talk to students.
According to Clark-Surtees, the head shaving fundraiser started around the same time as Tour de Rock. It came about when a founder of Tour de Rock, then living in Edmonton, heard of a child with cancer who was being bullied in school for his hair loss. This officer and several others showed up at the school to have their heads shaved. A year later, he brought Tour de Rock to B.C. when he relocated to Victoria.
The 81-year-old Clark-Surtees has been no stranger to cancer. Her first husband, Lyle Clark, passed away in 2009 from lung cancer. Her mother died from breast cancer in 2011. A boy, a cousin of her husband’s, had a metal plate put in his mouth after cancer surgery. When she saw the plate, she realized it was not healing. She was devastated when she heard he passed away a month later. Clark-Surtees herself has been treated for ovarian cancer and is in complete remission.
Clark-Surtees’ life story goes back to old Port Alice. She moved there on Sept. 18, 1967, with Lyle and their children, Roxanna and Rodney, where she worked in the bowling alley and at the movie theatre. She has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. In the new Port Alice, she worked as a custodian at the community centre. Clark-Surtees also taught ceramics from her basement from 1980-2008, teaching more than 1500 students over the years. She met her second husband, Gordie Surtees, in 2011 and they married in 2012.
Clark-Surtees is not experiencing too much trepidation about losing her hair, especially since she has gone through it before. She says that when she’s in bed “and I hear a swishing sound, I will know that it means my hair has started growing back in.”
To make a donation, contact Clark-Surtees by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also donation jars at the Foggy Mountain Coffee Shop, Port Alice Petroleum Products, Mio Amore Pizza and Michelle McGraw’s hair salon in Port Alice as well as at CABs in Port McNeill, and Pacificana in Port Hardy.