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Tour de Rock fundraiser on a roll, despite pandemic

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the wheels keep turning and the donations keep rolling in for Tour de Rock.

The annual Cops for Cancer cycling journey, in support of pediatric cancer research and support programs, has now reached the South Island.

Today, they are in Duncan and Shawnigan.

Tiffany McFadyen is the Cops for Cancer specialist for Vancouver Island.

She said as of today, they’ve raised around $250,000. 

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“When you think about the year we’ve had, it’s pretty phenomenal. And as I know that as we make our way down the island, that number will just continue to grow because Tour (de Rock) has really started to build momentum this year,” McFadyen said.

“We are a good news story this year and the cause really matters. It resonates with people.”

She has full confidence that they’ll be close to $500,000 by the time the ride winds up Friday in Victoria.

She said that even though the ride started off in a fierce rainstorm on Sept. 23rd, it was an experience she’ll take with her for a very long time.

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“It was the most incredible day for us because we were witness to small communities coming together for a cause that really matters,” she said. “For me personally it was the most impactful day because you could really see how much people cared.”

They enjoyed a pancake breakfast in Port Alice in the pouring rain, McFadyen said she could see familiar faces of supporters continuing to rally behind the cause.

Port Alice alone raised $3500, which McFadyen said was “pretty incredible.”

The outpouring of support continues in places such as Port Hardy and Port McNeill.

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“This year is very different, too, because we don’t have the (police) escort, we don’t have the bells and whistles, and yet the first responders in those small communities still showed up for us and were waiting for us on the side of the road as we came into town,” McFadyen said. 

“It was incredible. It was my favourite day of (the) tour, and all of our riders were so thrilled to be there and to experience it.”

A typical tour year would see a team of 22 cyclists ride the full 1,200 kilometres, from the northern tip of the island all the way down to Victoria.

COVID-19 derailed that plan, so this year, roughly 50 alumni riders were split into pods, as part of a relay ride. They were made up of six to 10 people riding in 10 different communities.

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“Basically the riders are passing a baton from group to group,” McFadyen said. 

Shifting back to the cause, McFadyen said that, through the Canadian Cancer Society, they’ve made great strides over the years.

“Twenty years ago, less than two percent of children survived a childhood cancer diagnosis and now that number is over 80 percent so all the funds raised help us come up with new treatment protocols, help us treat cancer quickly, (and) more effectively,” she said.

You can donate to the cause, and track the ride’s progress, by clicking here.

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