Ucluelet cheered in the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team on Saturday afternoon and the riders cheered right back, handing the community a Community Champion award for 2017.
“There’s only a couple of those given out for the entire Vancouver Island,” said Staff Sergeant, and former Ucluelet RCMP detachment commander, Jeff Swann.
He said the award recognized Ucluelet’s consistently inspiring fundraising efforts.
“This has just been such an amazing run for Ucluelet…It’s all-in-all such a wonderful cause and, when you look around and see the crowd that was here today and all of the people donating their time, their effort, their energy, their money and the businesses that donated, it’s just such a positive impact.”
The riders arrived in Tofino on Sunday morning for a pancake breakfast at the Tofino Legion and the team will have visited over 27 communities by the time their roughly 1,000-kilometre bike ride across Vancouver Island finishes in Victoria on Oct. 6.
Since its inaugural showing in 1998, the annual ride has generated over $23 million for paediatric cancer research and Camp Goodtimes, a weeklong experience for children and families battling cancer.
One of Ucluelet’s own is on the Tour de Rock team this year and tears overcame Const. Marcel Midlane when his fundraising total of $60,000 was announced in front of his teammates and supporters at the Ucluelet Co-op around 3:30 p.m.
“That isn’t me. All of this is everybody here. This is phenomenal,” Midlane said.
“This is such a caring community. I couldn’t have done this without each and every one of you who’s come out to support me and to support Cops for Cancer.”
The amount marked a roughly $15,000 increase from the West Coast’s 2016 Tour de Rock total, impressively spearheaded by another local rider, Gaylene Thorogood, who helped lead Midlane’s fundraising team this year.
Midlane gave a special shout out to West Coast sisters Dena Bruno and Rochelle Cole, whose combined efforts raised over $16,000 for the cause this year, as well as his local fundraising team, supporters and any locals who participated in the many fundraising events held throughout the West Coast.
“Everybody in the community who came out, time after time, for all these different events, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. It means so much,” he said. “This ride is for the kids and it’s fantastic.”
The Tour de Rock’s arrival included a community head-shave, which served as the perfect setting for three-year-old local Ava Duncan’s first-ever haircut.
“Ava stood up and decided to donate her hair. She got up there, we put her hair in ponytails, and we cut it away,” said Ava’s mom Rhianna.
“I’m extremely proud. I don’t think she realizes what that means and the volumes that that speaks that we’re raising money for kids with cancer and here she is donating her hair…It’s amazing and it’s lessons that you’re teaching them early, so it’s really cool.”
Ucluelet locals Jennifer Hoar and Maxtin Lengyel smiled under the head-shaving shears together after raising $3,000 for the cause.
“I’m super proud of this community for supporting me,” Hoar said.
She added that she’d been roughly $300 short of her $3,000 goal when she showed up to the afternoon’s festivities and was thrilled to see that gap disappear quickly.
“Everybody I walked up to, and said that to, pulled a $20 out of their wallet. I had, in half-an-hour here, well over $300 passed to me,” she said.
“It makes my heart feel good. It’s love and love’s all we’ve got. Bring a little light to a kid who is suffering from cancer and bring a little bit of light to the world…Kids are our future. You’ve got to do what you can for them.”
The Westerly News and Black Press are proud sponsors of the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock ride.