In previous years, Sawyer Oglend has been able to ride alongside his heroes on the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.
This year was a little different, but the childhood cancer survivor and Grade 4 student was still able to take part in the ceremonies when the Tour stopped at École Cobble Hill Elementary on Tuesday.
As a junior rider, Sawyer has had the chance to be part of the actual ride, but things had to be done a little differently this year because of COVID precautions.
“I usually missed a couple of hours of school to visit other schools,” Sawyer recalled fondly.
Instead of an Island-wide ride this year, smaller teams are taking shorter local rides, with stops at a handful of schools.
Sawyer was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer, when he was just 13 months old, and underwent six months of treatment at BC Children’s Hospital.
“At the end of six months, he was given the all clear,” his mom, Christine, explained. “We still visit the Children’s Hospital every year so they can check for the possibility of reoccurrence and side effects of his treatment.”
As grateful as she is that Sawyer is healthy all these years later, she still remembers the shock of learning her son was ill.
“It was not ever something I thought I’d get dealt when I became a mom,” she said.
École Cobble Hill took extra precautions for this year’s visit, separating classes as they sat on the curb in the parking lot waiting for the Tour to arrive. And with the exception of the Oglends, parents and families were told not to come.
Sawyer was front and centre as the school presented the riders with a cheque for $1,178 raised from the school community.
While the Tour makes stops at a number of schools every year, it is always especially meaningful for the students and staff at École Cobble Hill.
“There is nothing more powerful than having a living example of what the goodness and kindness of human beings can accomplish,” principal Lisa Leclerc said. “Sawyer is a kid who is alive because of cancer research.
“We have such an amazingly giving school community. They are always willing to support causes that the community presents, and we are grateful for that. All the schools do. This is a very amazing school district.”
The Cowichan Valley riders also stopped at Tansor Elementary and Shawnigan Lake School on Tuesday, and held an event at Beverly Corners in Duncan. Among the team members for the Cowichan Valley ride are Pam Bolton, Gary Jones, Mark Siebert, Andy Dunstan, Alan Gurzinski and Jennifer Symonds.