Members of Rock’s Greater Victoria Tour inspired by the kids they ride for

After a hiatus, the Rock’s Cops for Cancer Tour, Vancouver Island’s cycling event that raises money for children battling cancer, returns this year to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Twenty-one runners representing 15 police and other agencies from Port Hardy to Victoria are now in the final intensive training for the tour which begins September 24.

“I wasn’t a cyclist before this training…but I’m almost ready to call myself a cyclist now,” said Trent Edwards, who retired from the Saanich Police Department in 2020.

He has been training for five months. “I can cover over 90 kilometers in a day now.”

Edwards isn’t the only runner to notice physical improvement through training. Constable of the Victoria Police. Chris Van Swieten and Tiffany Parton, chief executive of the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police, have noticed a difference in their health and stamina since training began in March.

But physical training takes precedence over fundraising for cancer research and brings hope to children and their families battling cancer.

“This constituency and my fundraising goal is just a small step forward, but it will definitely add something towards success in the fight against cancer,” Parton said.

This year’s Tour de Rock holds special significance, as it’s her first time on the circuit after 15 years of fundraising. She worked at the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, which houses children in treatment and their families, and organized three bike rides for the Canadian Cancer Society before this year.

“When I ride, I can feel like I’m fighting the cancer battles with these kids and families together. It’s totally different from my previous experience,” she said.

Van Swieten still remembers the first tour of his primary school in Colwood when he was in 2nd grade.

“They entered the gymnasium. Can you believe a cavalier and my music teacher shaved their heads in front of the whole school? said Van Swieten, who also shaved his head and eyebrows this year as a 2022 Tour cyclist.

“It helped me raise $2,000 in 24 hours,” he laughed. “I love children and I heard the story of Ethan, a boy who recovered from leukemia. It makes me so proud to join the tour and make an effort to support more children with cancer with the best chance of survival.

Edwards remembers working with Martin Pepper, one of the founders of Tour de Rock in 1997, and watching the tour grow.

“I retired in January 2020, and now it’s time to deliver on my commitment to touring,” he said.

He also draws inspiration from his two honorary riders, Chelsea and Edwards’ sister, Sophie. “They were brilliant in the fight against cancer, which inspired me to bring them hope through training and touring.”

Over the past 25 years, the tour has raised over $26 million. Currently, over $180,000 has been donated to the 2022 tour, towards its goal of $850,000.

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