There will be some extra law enforcement officials in Qualicum Beach and Parksville on Sept. 29 but their mission isn’t to crack down on crime, but rather, to help battle childhood cancer.
A total of 22 bike riders, comprised of police officers and three members of the media, left Port Alice on Saturday, Sept. 24 and when they roll into the Oceanside area members of the 2011 Tour de Rock team will continue their campaign to raise money for pediatric cancer research.
The first Tour de Rock started in September 1998 and since then the annual campaign that has raised tens of millions of dollars province-wide to help support kids with cancer.
This year’s event will see this year’s riders hit almost every community from one end of Vancouver Island to the other.
Port Alice was the starting point for the team, which will be on the road for 14 days, covering a distance of 1,000 kilometres.
Police officers from CFB Esquimalt, Comox, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Oceanside, Port Alberni and Westshore RCMP detachments and Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay municipal police departments make up the team which, is complimented by three media riders from A News, Black Press and KOOL FM.
When the team arrives in this area there will likely be some extra cheers for two of the riders: Oceanside Constable Rochelle Carr and Auxilary Officer Bill Peppy.
Peppy and his and wife Debbie have long been part of the Cops for Cancer campaign.
The couple took on responsibility for the annual charity golf tournament in 2006, moving it from Arbutus Ridge to Parksville’s Morningstar course.
They also got to cook for the 2010 team, helping their friends from the Rocky Mountain Food Group when the Tour hit Tofino.
But only Bill, as an auxiliary with the Oceanside RCMP since 2006, is actually riding this year. (He’s grateful to Debbie, who was left to do the lion’s share of the organizational work for this September’s golf tournament.)
Peppy, 44, is the bakery operations manager for Country Grocer when not in uniform. He is also head instructor of the Oceanside Martial Arts School in Parksville.
He wasn’t sure that it would be physically possible at one point to take on the challenging ride after a childhood injury left him with pins and plates in his hip. But he’s been handling the bike just fine, albeit with one knee that sticks out.
Carr is also up to the challenge and said she’s eager to contribute to a cause that benefits kids.
Last year’s Tour de Rock raised $1.4 million which the Oceanside community played an important role in.
Fundraising events for the tour on Thursday include a gala dinner and auction from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Parksville Conference and Community Centre and some cheque presentations during the day in Qualicum Beach and Parksville.
The public will have a chance to meet the riders when they arrive in Qualicum Square at approximately 12:10 p.m. The town crier will be on hand to greet them and some heads will be shaved. After some cheque presentations at the square the riders will lunch at Baileys then proceed into Parksville with stops at four schools including: Arrowview Elementary, Oceanside Middle, Winchelsea Elementary and Ballenas Secondary.
The riders will arrive at Thrifty Foods in Parksville at around 3 p.m. and while there, they will participate in some head shaving events and some cheque presentations.
For those who want to make a donation there will be a fundraising BBQ at Thrifty Foods in Parksville beginning at 9 a.m. with breakfast sandwiches then lunch beginning at 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., with all proceeds going to Tour de Rock.
Tickets are also available for the Gala dinner and can be purchased at Thrifty Foods in Parksville or at the Canadian Cancer Society office in Qualicum Beach.
Individual tickets are $50 but organizers are hoping people will purchase a table of 10 for $500 that will include eight guests and sponsor two riders.
Karen Little, who is the Smile Team co-ordinator at Thrifty Foods in Parksville, has been organizing the dinner event and said they need to sell more sponsored tables.
“I am encouraging people to come and if they wish to purchase a ticket for one or two riders that would be great.”
There will be two riders at each table providing an opportunity for guests to chat with the participants one on one.
The three course dinner is being catered by the Galloping Gourmet with table wine provided by the TD Bank.
Little said there is a silent and live auction, balloon pop and wall of wine courtesy of RE/MAX Realty.
Volunteers with the local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society are organizing the silent auction and Peggie Jones admits they’ve had a lot of work to do but she’s happy to help out for such a good cause.
“It is for childhood cancer and we are making an impact. I feel privileged I can be involved in the Tour de Rock,” she said
Jones, who has volunteered with the cancer society for five years, said she got involved after a good friend died of the disease and she said the inspirational stories that are told at the dinner drives the message home that cancer hits everybody in some way.
She said not only does the event provide an opportunity to meet all 22 riders, it is also a great fundraiser.
“The community has been generous and it should be a good silent auction,” she said. “It is working out well.”
On Friday the tour heads to Port Alberni and after that it is westward bound to Tofino and Ucluelet. On Sunday, Oct. 2 Nanaimo residents will welcome the riders and eventually they will wind up in Saanich on Oct. 7
For more information on Cops for Cancer, visit www.tourderock.ca.