The doors of the jail were slamming shut on various members of the community last Friday, and cheers went up from those in attendance.
While the “jail cell” in the parking lot of Tyee Chevrolet Buick GMC was less of a real restraint for participants and more of a metaphor, it was certainly an apt one.
Cancer is a prison for many, and although the people who volunteered to be locked up on Friday were free to go as soon as they raised enough “bail money,” children living with the disease aren’t in the same position.
The Tour de Rock is an annual fundraiser initiated by Cops for Cancer, which sees millions of dollars raised to support the Canadian Cancer Society and send kids battling the disease – and their families – to Camp Goodtimes, and the Jail and Bail event last week was in support of that cause.
This year’s Tour de Rock Campbell River rider, Const. John Belanger, says he has been involved with Tour de Rock for the last nine years.
“I have lost a grandmother and an uncle to this devastating disease,” he says. “I have been blessed with two beautiful, healthy daughters and want to help families who are dealing with everything involved with having a child with cancer.”
Belanger has committed to shaving the iconic moustache that has been a fixture on his face for over 20 years if he raises $5,000.
Allen Howie, salesperson at Tyee Chevrolet Buick GMC, also has a significant connection to the disease and the cause.
His son Joseph, now 19, was diagnosed with cancer nine years ago, and was a Junior Rider in the Tour de Rock all through his teenage years. His other son has been a volunteer at Camp Goodtimes for years.
“We’ve done a car show in previous years,” Howie said, “but this year we thought we’d do something a little different and make it a bit more fun, make it a bigger event and see if we can raise a bit more money, and I think it will do that. It’s a great cause and we’ll do all we can to make it a success.”
Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Jeannie Applin of Royal Bank was “arrested” as part of the Jail and Bail fundraiser.
Local Sun Life Financial planner Glen Clark’s niece Natalia was actually attending Camp Goodtimes while Clark was behind bars at the dealership.
“She’s been battling leukaemia for three years now,” Clark says. “As long as the latest treatments worked, she could be out of the woods as far as those are concerned, but it’ll still be many years of checkups and doctor’s appointments and trips to Vancouver.”
His father also recently passed away from the disease, in 2001, at the age of 55.
“Cancer runs in everyone’s family, as you know, and it’s something we need to find a cure for it. Until we do, we need to help people and help the kids get through it in a more positive way.”
Dee Robertson, Clark’s sister and Natalia’s aunt, attended Camp Goodtimes with Natalia the first time she attended.
“It was a wonderful experience,” she says. “There are things for the couples, there are things for the moms, there are things for the dads, and the kids are all looked after.”
The camp also gives families a place to network with others going through the same thing and talk through their emotions. It provides them a level of emotional support that is important when fighting a battle like cancer, Robertson says.
Friday’s Jail and Bail event raised over $13,000 and saw 15 people “jailed” for the cause.
“I think it went really well,” Belanger said. “It was my first fundraiser and the first Jail and Bail that has been done, and the people at the Cancer Society are asking us what we did to make it so successful. They’re amazed.”
The Tour de Rock takes place over a two week period in September, leaving from Port Hardy Sept. 19, ending Oct. 2 in Victoria. Belanger’s moustache will be shaved – provided he reaches his goal – when the Tour rides into town on Sept. 22. Watch for more fundraisers for Tour de Rock between now and the ride, including the “Dash the Stash Bash” at Boston Pizza on Aug. 17, where Belanger hopes to raise that $5,000 to shave his moustache. A link to Belanger’s fundraising page will be posted with this story at campbellrivermirror.com.