The rain couldn’t keep the smiles from the faces of Jaleesa Nardino, Felix Charette-Thibault and other riders from the 2016 Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock when they pedalled into Duncan on Oct. 4.
Nardino and Charette-Thibault are police officers with the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment who are participating in the annual two-week, 1,000 kilometre bike ride from Port Alice to Victoria by almost 20 police officers who raise money to fight childhood cancer.
Nardino, an auxiliary constable in the local RCMP detachment, said she suffered a knee injury since the group of bikers left Port Alice on Sept. 24.
“It was from overuse mostly, but the Tour de Rock has a great medical team and they taped it up and I’ve been fine ever since,” she said.
She was surrounded by family and friends who came to Duncan’s Beverly Corners to greet her as she arrived.
“I was super-excited to finally make it to Duncan, but it has been a great experience in all the communities we visited so far. I especially liked visiting the schools.”
Charette-Thibault, who has been an RCMP officer with the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment for about a year, had his head shaved when he arrived in Duncan as a cancer fundraiser.
He only had half his head shaved at the time, and the other half was to be shaved at a dinner fundraiser held that evening.
But, on a dare from his teammates and supporters at the fundraiser, Charette-Thibault agreed to keep only half a head of hair until Halloween to raise more funds.
“I was feeling pretty tired when we first arrived here, but the energy from the people who came to greet us in Duncan just filled me up,” he said shortly after his haircut.
“It’s just mind-blowing how this community, and all the others that we visited so far, comes together to help us make the Tour de Rock a success.”
Charette-Thibault said the worst thing that has happened to him so far on the journey was having his bike’s chain break on Hydro Hill, between Port Alberni and Tofino, and falling over.
“I wasn’t hurt, but I had to walk the rest of the way up the hill before I got to the repair van and had the chain fixed,” he said.
“The whole trip has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m having a great time, while raising money to fight cancer at the same time.”
This year’s Tour de Rock is 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.
Katie Crowe, a coordinator of this year’s Tour de Rock, said the exact figures have yet to be tallied, but she believes this year’s event is approximately three-quarters of the way to its $1-million target.
“There’s still three more days and we’re heading to Victoria where we traditionally raise a lot of money for the cause,” Crowe said.