Mena Westhaver said she has sixteen new best friends up and down the Island.
Westhaver, who lives in Parksville for a couple months out of the year with her family, is one of the special guest riders for the 2016 Tour de Rock.
Westhaver got up to speak at the beer and burger night at the Quality Resort Bayside on Thursday (Sept. 29).
Westhaver said her son Jack was diagnosed with cancer in 2009.
She also said since then Tour de Rock and Camp Goodtimes has been a vital part of their lives.
“They gave my child something that no one else could give him,” Westhaver said. “They gave him an opportunity to go to camp even though he was, at times, near death. They gave us Camp Goodtimes three years in a row as a family where we could forget about cancer, forget about the needle pokes, forget about the lumbar punctures and just go and be kids and be together.”
Westhaver said at this point in time, she looks at her family’s cancer journey as a choice.
“You people all made the choice to be here. You made the choice to learn how to ride a bike, made the choice to put on spandex, you made the choice to come here tonight and collectively, we made the choice to help children — some of whom you’ll never know.”
She also said that her son, who is now 10 years old, didn’t have a choice to have cancer.
“As a parent, it would never have been something we chose for him to have endured. But I was determined to make the choice that we make the best of our experience and make it a positive one,” Westhaver said.
In 2009, Westhaver said Jack became a junior rider. The junior team is made up of Vancouver Island who have a history of cancer. Some of the kids are currently undergoing treatment, while others are in remission.
Westhaver said she can’t thank the Tour de Rock enough.
“You people are changing the world for kids you may never meet, but know you’ve made the most amazing choice ever. And there’s parents like me throughout the Island that want the opportunity to hug you,” she said.
Participating in the ride this year was a no brainer for Westhaver.
“When I was asked if I wanted the opportunity to ride the Tour de rock, absolutely I’ll ride the Tour de Rock,” Westhaver said. “Yeah, it might hurt, but it didn’t hurt and it’s not going to hurt like it hurt my son Jack. Cancer hurt my son Jack. The Tour de Rock loved my son Jack.”