Cyclists are currently preparing for this year’s Tour de Rock. Pictured are participants in the 2017 event on Highway 4. (Holly Stocking photo)
The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is starting this month, and the riders and communities are preparing for the over 1,100 -kilometre journey across the island.
The tour will be running through Port Alberni on Sept. 27 and long-time supporter and four-year volunteer Matilda Atleo is looking forward to the event.
When Atleo first started volunteering alongside the Tour de Rock, she really wanted to include the local nations with the event.
“I always used to see them pass by, right through the (reserve)…I thought, why couldn’t we get involved?” says Atleo.
With the cooperation of local bands Tseshaht and Hupacasath, Atleo is helping arrange a dinner for the riders and the community. The dinner is by donation, and organisers hope to include everyone in the pediatric cancer awareness fundraiser.
The Tour de Rock holds a special and emotional place in Atleo’s heart, as she had lost her nephew to leukaemia.
“It’s definitely a journey, especially if you know some of the riders.” Atleo adds.
The dinner is on the evening of the 27th, and is open to the public at the Alberni Athletic Hall by donation.
The Port Alberni detachment has no riders this year, but that doesn’t mean the local police station isn’t supporting the event.
“It’s important to get involved…anything helps,” Const. Beth O’Connor says to Hashilthsa.
Cst. O’connor participated in the Tour de Rock in 2017, and she described it as an “eye opening, new experience”. Her training regimen started in early March, six months before the tour started. Each district had a police trainer who would assist with the schedule, and the riders would always train together. O’connor says she would bike 60-80 kilometres a day, four times a week in preparation for the long days during the tour.
But the hard work pays off, and all the money raised goes to local families suffering from pediatric cancer, or to help kids go to Camp Good Times, a getaway for young people suffering from cancer to receive medical treatment, support, and fun.
To help support this event, Boston Pizza is hosting a burger night on September 23rd at 6 pm, and Matilda Atleo is searching for donations, volunteers, and a caterer. Those interested in helping can contact the NTC at (250) 724-5757.