After a week-long, 800-kilometre journey from Dawson Creek to Williams Lake, Cops for Cancer Tour de North cyclists were treated to a warm welcome in Williams Lake Monday night.
The trek brought participants, including Williams Lake RCMP Const. Joel Kooger, through Dawson Creek, Farmington, Taylor, Fort St. John, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd, Powder King, Mackenzie, Bear Lake, Prince George and Quesnel before riders cycled the final portion of the ride down Highway 20 and turning on South Lakeside Drive to Canadian Tire in the lakecity.
Kooger said the ride was great.
“We had a super strong group, weather for the first five days was awesome, yesterday (Sunday) it was not so good but coming into Williams Lake we had sunshine,” Kooger said. “Arriving here was so awesome. A huge welcome, great support from Red Tomato Pies, Canadian Tire and a whole bunch of community members, alumni riders. It’s awesome.”
Another rider, Alex Tsitsilin of Prince Rupert, a BC Emergency Health Services paramedic, said he took part in the ride specifically because it finished in Williams Lake — a city he holds near to his heart.
“Arriving here, it’s so amazing,” the 24-year-old said, who moved with his family from the Ukraine to Williams Lake when he was in high school at Columneetza secondary.
Kooger, meanwhile, was greeted by family — including his wife, Alison, who participated in the ride last year, and his four children — at Canadian Tire, along with friends and colleagues.
Canadian Tire owners Brad and Nancy O’Neill were also on hand to greet riders upon their arrival.
Erin Reynolds, the Cops for Cancer Tour de North co-ordinator, said she was especially pleased with this year’s great group of riders, weather and fundraising.
Tour de North participants raise money to help with life-saving research that has led to earlier detection of childhood cancers, better treatments and more children surviving and thriving.
They also raise funds for important support services for children affected by cancer, and their families, such as Camp Goodtimes — a medically supervised summer camp that provides a unique respite for children and families.
Each year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, around 950 Canadian children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is the top cause of disease-related death among children in Canada and two-thirds of survivors will suffer serious long-term side effects from their treatment.
“It’s been an excellent tour,” Reynolds said. “We got to meet families along the way, which was really impactful for the team to have a chance to connect with them and know what we’re doing is making a big difference for them.”
She added the Tour de North is forecasted to raise roughly $160,000.
Next year’s Tour de North is scheduled to ride from Prince George to Prince Rupert.
Donations can still be made online at www.tourdenorth.ca.