On Thursday morning, rain or shine, the Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley ride to fight childhood cancers will launch its nine day, 800 km ride, in Langley.
Their first stop will be at Aldergrove, first to visit Shortreed elementary school in memory of the late student Christopher Sperger and then to Aldergrove secondary school for the tour's opening ceremonies.
The opening ceremonies begin at 9:40 a.m. and students from the neighboring Betty Gilbert middle school will join the high school students at Aldergrove secondary.
Last year, Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley raised $420,000 for pediatric cancer research and for the Canadian Cancer Society's Camp GoodTimes. Over the years, Cops for Cancer across B.C. has raised more than $27 million, much of that also going to support families.
This year there are 10 junior team members either going through treatment or working through recovery.
The ride will see cops ride for nine days, covering 800 kms of road and speaking at dozens of schools. They will travel through several communities including Surrey, Delta, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Mission, Hope and Boston Bar.
The tour has five memorial stops to honour junior members who have died of cancer, said van Herk.
Aldergrove’s Teresa Sperger will again greet the Cops for Cancer riding team at Shortreed Elementary in memory of her son Christopher, who passed away six years ago after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was a student at Shortreed.
Hanging in Langley RCMP Const. Craig van Herk's office is a framed picture of Sperger and him. Sperger was one of the first junior members van Herk got to know and shared a bond with.
"Christopher was a really special kid and losing him has been really tough," said van Herk, a father of two.
Each police officer, auxiliary member and emergency personnel involved in the ride has to do their own fundraising through the year, through car washes, head shaves, barbecues, and any fundraisers at the detachment. Community sponsors also give generously with donations, said van Herk.
"We don't use any of the donor money for accommodations or food along the nine days of riding," said van Herk.
That means they hope for sponsors like hotels to put them up. But for a few of the nights on this tour, they will be sleeping on the floor of a rec centre.
"After riding 135 km in a day, a bed is really comforting but we recognize we aren't here for our comfort," he said. "Even riding in the rain, which is what we mostly do, is nothing compared to what these kids go through."
The 26-member team and their full police escorts will visit schools and community locations.
If you would like to make a donation visit copsforcancerbc.ca/.
-with files from Monique Tamminga