The Ucluelet Co-op parking lot pulsated with philanthropic vibrations on Saturday afternoon as the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock ride was cheered into town.
While the event was smaller than year’s past due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the community’s giving spirit shone through to the tune of over $3,000, with $1,600 raised at a barbecue hosted by the Ucluelet RCMP prior to the riders arriving and $797 put in a donation jar for Co-op’s board president Gord Dunsmore to shave off his ‘COVID hair’ for the cause, which the Co-op matched bringing the total amount raised to $3,194.
“The community’s support is always phenomenal here. It really gets you emotional when you ride in and see the community show up like they do, always supporting the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock,” Tour de Rock rider Marcel Midlane told the Westerly News at the event. “Everybody always loves coming here. They always comment on the community spirit and the support that the community here gives to the tour and it really warms the heart to see everybody here. It’s not as big an event as it usually is with the full team, but we’re incredibly pleased with the turn out. It’s awesome.”
This year’s ride carried the same format as last year’s with nine alumni team’s on Vancouver Island traveling within their respective regions, rather than one team covering the entire Island like Midlane did when he represented the Ucluelet RCMP in 2017’s ride.
“In years past the group has ridden together and trained together for months and months, whereas this year some of the training rides were a little smaller with the group,” he said. “When we all do get together, we have that common bond where we’ve all ridden together and we’ve all felt that comradery within the team. We’ve all felt the togetherness of being a team in the past and we all bring that to the table where it doesn’t take much to be back in that feeling again. It’s really cool.”
The regional team rode from Port Alberni to Tofino and Ucluelet on Saturday.
“It’s an awesome group of people. We’ve had a great day,” Midlane said. “The nice thing is that you see the same people over and over coming out for these and that’s really amazing that you have that core group of people…It’s super heartwarming to look around and see the faces from the community that were here last year and the year before and the year before.”
All the money raised by the ride goes towards pediatric cancer research and sending kids to Camp Goodtimes, which offers children living with cancer an opportunity to bond, build friendships and have fun in a medically supervised environment.
“That’s fantastic. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to send kids to camp and have the time of their lives,” Midlane said. “It’s incredible. That’s a great feeling to know that you’re sending a kid to camp and every community is another kid and all those collective amounts of money raised are sending more and more kids to camp.”
He added the riders have all visited Camp Goodtimes and seen the benefits it brings to kids.
“We’ve all seen the amazing atmosphere where the kids get to be themselves,” he said. “These kids are often going through treatment and they don’t have to miss anything because they’ve got medical staff at camp to assist them with what they need when they’re there. That’s one of the beauties of Camp Goodtimes, they still get the medical help that they may need while they’re there and they get to feel like themselves around other kids who either have cancer or have gone through the same experiences that they’re going through and they also get to have their families there if they want to.”
Now a member of the North Cowichan Duncan RCMP, Gaylene Thorogood represented Tofino and Ucluelet on the Tour de Rock ride as an RCMP Auxiliary in 2016 and was all smiles as she rode into the Ucluelet Co-op’s parking lot with the team again this year.
“It felt amazing coming back home and knowing we were going to see our hometown crowd. It’s an incredible adventure. With COVID, things are still different, but it was nice to have the crowds out this year,” Thorogood told the Westerly News at the celebration. “It’s good that we have community here with us celebrating and supporting this important cause.”
She added the support shown by the communities cheering the riders on is inspiring.
“It can be emotional too. It’s really emotional when you come in and see the crowds cheering and that support really does get to you right at the heart. You know why you’re doing this, you’re doing this for the kids,” she said.
Tofino paramedic and volunteer firefighter Amanda McCrae rode in the Tour de Rock in 2018 and said the continuous support the alumni team has received is jubilating.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “It pumps us right up every time we get a honk or a wave or when we’re pulling into the Co-op here, we can’t help but smile and get excited.”
McCrae added she was happy to see more community events compared to last year’s ride.
“I get the feeling like things are slowly going back to normal and we’re really hoping that next year is a full-on tour for the 25th year anniversary so we’re super pumped about that,” she said.