A reception was held at the Lake View Credit Union as 23 riders – two paramedics, one civilian, and 20 RCMP officers or civilian members – arrived in the city to complete the first leg of their nearly 800 kilometre journey from Fort St. John to Williams Lake – all to raise money for cancer research and support services.
Geense took part in last year’s cycling tour from Prince George to Prince Rupert, and said this year’s new route has already presented some tough challenges.
“The Taylor Hill is not a nice start!” she said. “Our day out of Prince George to Vanderhoof last year was a lot more of a gradual break-in. Taylor Hill is definitely a rude way to start your morning, but we all managed, we all made it, and there were smiles at the top as we came the rest of the way down. Nothing looks bad after Taylor Hill!”
She added training for the tour was especially difficult this year with all the rain the area received earlier this summer.
However, Geense is motivated by her own personal experiences with cancer. She said she had a close childhood friend who was diagnosed with the disease, and earlier this year, a local woman who was a big supporter during her fundraising campaign last year informed Geense she was facing a cancer diagnosis. Geense said that woman did have biopsies done and the results appear encouraging.
She said she was also driven by the overwhelming support from the community, as she raised nearly $43,000 through various fundraisers like a jail-and-bail event. The final tally has yet to be counted, but she said the total will be posted online at www.copsforcancerbc.ca.
“Dawson Creek has been phenomenal this year!” she said. “I could not believe how many people came out to all of our events and donated, and that we were able to raise $43,000.”
Geense and the rest of the cyclers left early this morning to continue the tour. She said the camaraderie amongst the cyclers has been a great part of the experience so far.
“We’re all still establishing friendships and bonds, but it has been really good. Everyone is there to encourage everybody else, because we all have one common goal.”
Geense was greeted yesterday afternoon by acting mayor Bud Powell, a cancer survivor himself, who thanked all the riders for their efforts. He said the significance of the Cops for Cancer fundraisers for people living with the disease cannot be understated.
“It’s extremely significant, particularly for the children, which this is really geared towards. When you see kids who are nine or 10 who have it (cancer), it’s really heart-wrenching, and I think this is really important.”
Powell was referring to the fact that a significant portion of the money raised goes towards Camp Goodtimes in Mission, a summer retreat for children and youth living with cancer and their families.
One local girl, 16-year-old Lauren Pewarchuck, talked about her experiences at Camp Goodtimes, having attended the camp for several years after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a type of bone cancer – when she was just 11 years old. She said the camp offers rock climbing, swimming, dancing, and many other games and activities including a special “casino night” where cops from the Vancouver area spend the day with the campers.
“I love going, and it’s just nice being with people who are going through the same things as you, and are able to relate and understand,” she said.
The riders also received the praise and well-wishes of Ryan Bauldae, owner/manager of the local Canadian Store, and Rene George, chief executive officer of Lake View Credit Union, representing the two big corporate sponsors of this year’s Tour de North.