Don Devenney, an alumni rider for Tour de Rock 2020, was one of the first to arrive at Sooke’s SEAPARC Leisure Complex parking lot on Wednesday morning, but in a car rather than a bike.
This year, the riders have been biking a relay across the Island. Most of the riders drove to Sooke to bike to Langford on Sept. 30.
Devenney drove past the Malahat after he rode through the Cowichan Valley with Tuesday’s team.
“We’ve been saying that this year is Tour-ish de Rock,” joked Devenney, who rode the nearly 1,000-kilometre trek for pediatric cancer research in 2008.
“We’re so glad to see people waving and honking as we pass by, but it’s definitely a different kind of rally versus before [the pandemic]. One thing is for sure, the need [for childhood cancer research] hasn’t gone away.”
The riders made their way through Sooke, stopping by Lily Lecinana’s home, an 11-year-old who fought cancer and has raised more than $18,000 through a bottle drive and donations.
The $10,000 will go towards Cops for Cancer, and $8,000 will be donated to Island Kids Cancer Association. Her mom, Meredith Lecinana, says cheque donations are still pouring in.
“This time last year, Lily was in a hospital bed,” said Meredith. “It’s pretty amazing to see them in person, and we’re so grateful for what they do for kids like Lily.”
The riders also stopped by Daisy Irwin’s home, the girl who fought Leukemia in 2005 when she was just 10 months old. She went through three rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant before she turned a year old.
“She’s super strong,” said Derek Brand, an Oak Bay municipal officer who rode for Daisy back in 2015 to celebrate her fifth anniversary of being cancer-free.
“I’ll never forget the moment when she squeezed my thumb while her dad and I were talking about the hardships they went through. It was a huge deal. The pain we feel while riding is nothing compared to what she had to go through.”
Daisy’s father, Patrick, died a few years later from colon cancer.
The riders will finish their day at Belmont Secondary School in Langford. Another team of riders will head to Sidney on Oct. 1 before completing their trek on Oct. 2 in downtown Victoria.
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