ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
Mena Westhaver has begun training in earnest to cycle the length of Vancouver Island this fall.
Westhaver is one of 17 people, consisting mostly of police officers from the Island, who will be participating in the 2016 Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team.
She decided to get involved with Cops for Cancer and become a guest rider this year after her son Jack was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just three weeks shy of his sixth birthday.
Jack, who is now a junior Cops for Cancer team member, endured more than three years of cancer treatments, and the one light of hope during that time was his visit to Camp Goodtimes each year.
Westhaver said Jack also has fond memories of the members of the Tour de Rock team who worked hard to help raise funds for the camp for young people dealing with cancer.
“He’s doing great now,” Westhaver said with a smile on May 6 as the 17 members of this year’s team were announced at Shawnigan Lake School.
“Life is all about choices, but Jack had no choice with his cancer,” she explained. “But it is a choice for people to support the cause, and the support we get each year through the Tour de Rock is fantastic.”
This year’s team will cycle the length of the Island this fall raising money for pediatric cancer research and support programs, like Camp Goodtimes.
The Tour de Rock has raised more than $21 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and its programs since it first began in 1998.
The team will spend the summer months training on their bikes and fundraising before setting out from Port Alice on Sept. 24 for the 1,100-kilometre tour before it ends in Victoria on Oct. 7.
Team member Todd Mason, from the Victoria Police Department, said it was “an honour” to put on the Tour de Rock jersey for the first time at the opening event on May 6.
“It’s so much more than just a cycling jersey,” he said.
“It represents all the communities and supporters from Vancouver Island working together to help kids with cancer. It’s overwhelming.”