The buzz in the gym at Saanich’s Tillicum elementary Friday morning started with the introduction of Ryder the Raccoon and grew louder as newly announced riders on the Cops for Cancer 2022 Tour de Rock team walked in.
But a roar went up when guest rider, none other than Tillicum principal Jeff Duyndam, was introduced.
“All of this really gets me fired up, does it get you fired up?” he later asked the students and staff assembled for the event, to which they responded with another roar.
“We are going to take that passion inside us and do something really special, we’re going to take that to help other people,” he said. Another roar.
It’s moments like this, happening up and down Vancouver Island, that have been missed in the three years since the last full Tour de Rock ride was held to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and family supports.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of this team, and to have (the kickoff event) happen at my own school in the Greater Victoria School District is absolutely spectacular,” Duyndam told Black Press Media after the boisterous rally wound up.
The tour, an iconic Island staple that draws riders mainly from the law enforcement and emergency services communities, but also from the greater community and media, was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, with alumni riders picking up the fundraising slack.
If the energy generated by Friday’s event was any indication, the Canadian Cancer Society will be pulling out all the stops for the 25th anniversary tour this fall and the lead-up to it.
Saanich police Const. Aaron Grewal, one of multiple members from the department announced Friday, is “super excited” to be part of the team, having seen his goal of riding quashed in 2020 by the pandemic. He continued cycling since and has amped up his training in recent months.
“Wearing the jersey today just makes it so much more real,” he said. “The jersey and the bike are kind of the tools that get us in the door and get the word out there, we get to raise money for research and planning and also for Camp Goodtimes, where the kids get to go be kids.”
Thirteen-year-old Lily Lecinana of Sooke, a childhood cancer survivor and former junior rider, handed out the jerseys to riders. She encouraged the public to keep the riders and the beneficiaries of their efforts in mind as they return to the roads for training and the tour itself, running Sept. 24 to Oct. 7 between Port Alice and Victoria.
“Today is a very, very special day. It is the 25th anniversary of Tour De Rock, which is awesome and I just can’t believe it. This is an amazing day, I almost want to cry, it’s so great,” she said. She hopes to get to Camp Goodtimes this summer, having missed her chance last year due to COVID.
Other team members, starting from the north, are Kyle Dornan, Port Hardy RCMP; Bonnie Logan, Campbell River Fire Department; Steve Scott, Courtenay Volunteer Fire Rescue; Josh Wilson, CFB Comox; Terry Crawford, Nanaimo RCMP; Rachelle Cole, B.C. Emergency Health Services; Rick Geddes, District of Ucluelet Fire; Kenn Mount, Central Saanich Fire Department; Josh Peterson, CFB Esquimalt; Karen Robinson, Pat Bryant, Lindsay Blackett, Trent Edwards, Saanich Police Department; Chris Van Swieten, Tristan Williams, VicPD. Guest riders include the North Island’s Robin Campbell, City of Parksville’s Adam Fras; B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police representative Tiffany Parton and media rider Anna McMillan from CTV Vancouver Island.
To past and future supporters of the tour, Duyndam said, “Thank you for all you do … Helping others is something that is an absolutely spectacular thing that we need to do more of.”
To follow the riders, donate or learn more about the programs, visit tourderock.ca.
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Cops for CancerSaanichTour de Rock