Chris Day was seven years old when his older brother, Andrew, was first diagnosed with cancer. Andrew fought the disease and went into remission, only to have it return a few years later.
Andrew died of leukemia when he was only 14 years old, and Chris was 12.
Now, 25 years later, Day works as a firefighter with the CFB Esquimalt fire service and, this year is participating as a guest rider in the 20th annual Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock to raise money to fight childhood cancer
“My brother wasn’t able to beat it, but his memory lives on and it’s one of the reasons I am so thrilled to be a part of this amazing fundraising project,” said Day.
Tour de Rock is an annual, two-week fundraising initiative which runs from Sept. 23 to Oct. 6 wherein 24 riders cycle a thousand kilometre route from Port Alice to Victoria to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
One of the funding targets of Tour de Rock is Camp Good Times, a camp funded by the Canadian Cancer Society for children and youth affected by cancer. That program, in particular, evokes memories for Day and serves as an inspiration for his ride.
For Day, the physical challenge of the ride is not as much of an obstacle as it might be for some. A regular triathlete, he has significant experience in cycling that he feels has prepared him for the arduous training schedule followed by all Tour de Rock participants. For Day, it’s the emotional aspect of the ride that can be daunting.
“My junior riders are Hanna and Hailey Day (no relation to Chris). Hanna is seven years old, and had a rare stomach cancer. In the process of fighting that she ended up getting leukemia,” said Day, adding Hanna’s story resonates on a personal level.
Day’s come to learn the stories behind many of the 24 riders on the Tour de Rock team, as well as some of the stories of the junior riders, and realizes how each story is intensely personal and poignant. Those stories, and thousands more like them is the reason the fundraising efforts of the Canadian Cancer Society are so important.
“If we keep raising money like this, one day maybe we won’t have to tell kids they have cancer,” said Day.
For more information about the ride visit tourderock.ca.