The Houston community has been doing its part to ensure that children diagnosed with cancer have the best chance of survival.
The community has donated over $7,000 so far to support local residents Sue Jones and Ryan Hobbs in their quest to complete the 2018 Cops for Cancer Tour de North, which took place approximately two weeks ago.
The annual 850-km bike ride from Prince George to Prince Rupert, which gathers emergency services personnel and some community members from across Northern B.C., helps fund leading-edge pediatric cancer research.
“During our ride we met so many kids that are affected by cancer, and they were survivors because of recent [treatment] developments,” said Jones. “And that’s the families talking, not the statistics.”
When challenges arose during the week-long ride, Jones said she drew inspiration and strength from the survivors she met along the way.
“When the ride started getting really bad, I started thinking, ‘Jeez, can I make it?’ Then I started to think about Audrey, a little girl I met in Prince George. She is alive because of what we’re doing. So I thought, ‘I can do this hardship because I’m not a little kid facing cancer.’”
The second day of the ride – when Tour de North riders were expected to bike about 180 km - was the most challenging, according to Jones.
As the riders travelled between Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Fraser Lake, the rain and near freezing temperatures led the team captain to call the ride off for the day.
“Some of the riders started getting really cold and wet,” described Jones. “Safety prevails, so we didn’t do the last 50 km to Fraser Lake, and we got into a bus.”
Jones says the weather for the remainder of the trip continually improved.
“After that every day felt easier.”
She also mentioned the “incredible amount of support” she received from team members.
“We were able to complete the ride because team members helped each other. When I was having difficulty going up a hill, there would be a gentle hand on my back that would support me and take the pressure off my legs.”
Jones added that her favourite part of the ride was biking inside schools.
“Most of the mornings we went to one or two schools, and got to bike right into the gym,” she explained. “They had music playing and kids would come up and ask you questions about your bike.”
“You felt like a rock star.”
Although this was Jones’ first time riding with Tour de North, this was Hobbs’ second time.
The Houston RCMP constable said this year was particularly challenging due to fluctuations between rain, snow and freezing temperatures.
“Nevertheless I had a great experience this year,” said Hobbs. “The amount of community support was outstanding.”
He said the most rewarding part of the ride was having the opportunity to bike on behalf of the Houston community through his dual representation of the RCMP and Houston Volunteer Fire Department.
“Being a spokesperson for my community and advocating for such an amazing cause is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” he said. “Houston really gives 110 per cent, and I’m proud to be a part of this community.”
Jail and Bail event coming up
The Houston community can still help the Tour de North team reach their donation goal of $200,000. So far the team has raised over $160,000.
The Houston riders will be hosting a Jail and Bail event on Oct. 4 at the Houston branch of the Bulkley Valley Credit Union. Last year this event raised approximately $8,500.
“We hope to match the same level of donations and community support this year,” said Hobbs.
Combined, the four Cops for Cancer teams in B.C. hope to raise $2.2 million this year.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, pediatric cancer is still the number one cause of disease-related deaths in Canadian children under the age of 15. In addition, two out of three childhood cancer survivors suffer long-term side effects from their treatment.
“At the Canadian Cancer Society, we believe that one child with cancer is one too many,” said Brooke Sherwood, Canadian Cancer Society’s director of annual giving.