Amanda McRae smiled wide as she pedalled into the Ucluelet Co-op’s parking lot on Saturday.
The Tofino paramedic and firefighter is cycling across Vancouver Island as a member of the 2018 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team, raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer research and Camp Goodtimes, a week-long experience for children and families affected by the disease.
The team began their roughly 1,000-kilometre journey in Port Alice on Sept 23 and had covered roughly 605 kilometres and visited about 12 communities before arriving in Ucluelet on Sept. 29.
Ucluelet was buzzing to welcome McRae back to the West Coast as community members celebrated the Tour de Rock team’s arrival at the Co-op’s annual head-shaving celebration.
“I felt like a kid at Christmas. I was so excited to come to the West Coast,” McRae told the Westerly News at the event. “Seeing familiar faces and faces that have helped me raise all this money to send kids to Camp Goodtimes; my heart is warm and I’m happy to be here.”
Community members cheered the riders in and lined up to lose their locks, including an impressive number of young kids eager to get under the shears.
“It’s so awesome,” McRae said. “It’s kids helping kids. It’s kids supporting kids. How cool is that?”
Const. Marcel Midlane of the Ucluelet RCMP rode in 2017’s Tour de Rock ride and was happy to support this year’s event.
“Cops for Cancer is such an important event to all the communities across Vancouver Island,” he said. “It helps support children battling cancer and their family members by sending them to Camp Goodtimes as well as with pediatric cancer research. It’s just all around an amazing fundraiser.”
McRae has raised roughly $15,599 so far, according to her Tour de Rock fundraising website, and she said she is grateful for her home coast’s support.
“This is my family. This is my home. You guys have supported me from day one,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
The team travelled roughly 102 kilometres from Port Alberni to Ucluelet on Saturday and will head to Tofino on Sunday for the Tofino Legion’s annual Cops for Cancer pancake breakfast from 9-11 a.m. All are welcome to attend and admission is by donation.
“Today’s ride was awesome. It was full of challenging hills but we just put our heads down, thought about our junior riders and the reasons why we’re riding and we did it,” McRae said. “We’re pumped for the next week to come.”