Police from Langley and around the Fraser Valley hope to still ride their bikes for kids with cancer this fall, but COVID-19 means that fundraising has been suspended for now.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley is scheduled for Sept. 17 to 25 this year, and the ride has not been cancelled, said Sonia Ghag, the annual giving coordinator for the Cancer Society’s B.C. and Yukon division.
But all Cancer Society fundraising activities have been suspended until May, including Cops for Cancer events.
The annual ride, which stretches from Delta to Boston Bar and back, sees a team of more than 20 police officers, border security officials, and corrections officers cover more than 800 km on their bicycles.
They spend much of the spring and summer raising money for the event, which pours hundreds of thousands of dollars into the cause of pediatric cancer.
Between 20 and 25 officers take part every year, and the team is still together, if in spirit rather than physically.
“We had just kicked off all the meetings at the end of February, early March, and then all of this happened,” Tielman said.
The group has been keeping in touch online and with conference calls.
“Right now it’s just been online funraising, said Dan Tielman, this year’s team captain.
Riders have been reaching out over social media to try to get donations if possible.
“Obviously, finances aren’t as readily available for everyone,” he said.
Each rider is typically tasked with raising at least $6,000, and many raise more than that. But most of the events take place in public or require crowds, including simple events like pub nights.
In addition, they have to train – some riders haven’t been on a bike in years before they sign up around February of each year.
“I think there’s a lot of at-home training,” he said.
But he’s hoping they can eventually meet again.
“To really mesh as a team, it’s good to get out to train as a team,” Tielman said.
Some changes and adjustments are likely to the Tour de Valley event this year, but it’s too soon to say what those will be, Ghag said.
“Ensuring the health and safety of the riders on our team is also a priority to us,” she said. “With that in mind we will adapt and make changes necessary to plan tour to the best of our ability.”
One of the major beneficiaries of the annual ride, which is one of several Cops for Cancer rides around B.C., is Camp Goodtimes in Maple Ridge.
The summer camp is the only one in B.C. dedicated to bringing in kids who have survived, or sometimes are in treatment for, childhood cancer.
With doctors and nurses on staff, it allows kids who wouldn’t normally be able to go to camp a place to meet other children who have been through the same experiences.
But this spring at least, the camp won’t be running.
“This was a difficult decision that was made in consultation with local health authorities, public health officers, Centre of Disease Control and CCS [Canadian Cancer Society] executive leadership,” Ghag said. “At this time, the plan is to continue summer camp programs. As the situation is evolving rapidly, the Canadian Cancer Society will be closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and will communicate if there will be any changes to summer program plans.”
Staff and volunteers are still working to find other ways to support kids and families living with cancer, Ghag said.
“We could all use some of that Camp Goodtimes magic these days!” she said.
The camp recently reached out to its families by hosting a “campfire at home” event online, and has posted a video of the event on the Camp Goodtimes Facebook page.
Ghag said the Cops for Cancer teams are looking forward to uniting again when it is safe for them to do so.