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Vancouver Island police officers, communities gearing up for Tour de Rock

VicPD constable and rider Jennifer Young:
VicPD constable and rider Jennifer Young: 'People get to see a side of police officers that we don’t often have a chance to show them.” Image credit: contributed
— image credit: File photo

In the past 17 years, Tour de Rock has grown to become one of Vancouver Island’s most successful and popular fundraisers. With the tour just two weeks away, the team of 24 cyclists, including four officers from Victoria, are gearing up for the cross-Island ride.

Tour de Rock starts Sept. 20 in Port Alice, where the team will begin its 14-day ride to Victoria, stopping in mire than 20 communities along the way.

Each day will take the riders will travel between 35 and 140 kilometres, including trips from the east to west coasts of the Island. By the end of the journey, the team will have cycled more than 1,000 kilometres.

Despite the immense length, the real measure of success for Tour de Rock, like any fundraiser, stems from the donations. Since its debut in 1998, the tour has raised $20 million, including $1.3 million last year, for the Canadian Cancer Society for its pediatric research and support programs, such as the society’s Camp Goodtimes summer camp.

“Everyone knows somebody who has battled cancer. It’s just such a prevalent disease now, everybody has a story to tell,” said VicPD Const. Jennifer Young, a rider on this year’s team.

“Taking part in something like the Tour de Rock is a good way to feel like you’re directly helping.”

Despite the 1,000 kilometres ahead of him, VicPD officer and rider Const. Ryan Koropatniski said that the most challenging part of the Tour de Rock has been fundraising.

“Speaking with past riders, I knew it was going to be the bigger hurdle, asking for donations is just out of my norm,” he said. “Once we start rolling through communities, it will ramp up the fundraising, make it easier. I believe I’ll hit my goal, even surpass it.”

Young said this year marks a transition for her, as its her first spent outside of the major crime unit in six years – finally giving her a chance to commit to something as large as the Tour de Rock outside of work.

Young said that she admires how the Tour de Rock’s impact goes beyond just raising money, and the effect it has on the communities it passes through, something which Koropatniski echoed.

“I’ve been blown away by how supportive and tightly-knit communities on the Island are,” she said. “And I like that people get to see a side of police officers that we don’t often have a chance to show them.”

Along with the cyclists collecting pledges, Tour de Rock also raises money through community events. This year, Victoria has already hosted fitness classes, musical concerts and a 1920s-themed lawn bowling tournament, with more events, like Flow de Rock, a fundraiser based around flow yoga, coming later this month.

The riders representing Victoria this year are Jennifer Young, Lori Lumley and Ryan Koropatniski of the VicPD, as well as Adam Carruthers, who serves with the military police at CFB Esquimalt. They’re set to leave Port Alice on Sept. 21, and will be arriving in Esquimalt and Victoria on Oct. 3 before the finale at Spirit Square in Saanich on the same day.

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