Nine-year-old Ashlyn Smart was watching.
Ashlyn counted 21 Tour de Rock riders pulling into a convenience store in the Comox Valley, and noted each rider sported the bright, fluorescent-green socks she was looking for.
Only a week ago, the Cops for Cancer support crew gave each rider, including myself, a bright green pair of socks and told us the story of Dave Smart, an avid athlete and marathon runner who passed away from cancer – asking us to wear the socks on Day 5 in his honour.
The socks, Dave Smart Stinky Socks to be exact, are named after Ashlyn’s father, a man who loved brightly coloured socks prior to his death in 2004 from Melanoma when Ashlyn was just three-weeks old – before she ever had a chance to know him.
I took a minute to break off the packaging and slide the new socks on for the first time in a hotel room in Campbell River that morning, thinking they are a stark departure from the mandated black ankle socks used for the majority of the 1,200 km tour, minus the approximately 70 kilometre trek through the Comox Valley we biked on Day 5.
Meeting the Smarts I realized what I didn’t see when I first received the socks. Watching the Tour de Rock wear the socks was something Ashlyn and her mother Robin waited a full year to see.
The socks, were born not just from the passing of the avid Tour de Rock supporter when he was just 33-years-old, but sparked by a connection made when the Tour de Rock team took a minute to remember and dedicate the day’s ride to Dave Smart honouring the day he died, Sept. 26, 2004. That minute Robin said, gave her strength as she began her journey as a single parent.
Today, both Robin and Ashlyn work and run the Smart Foundation with proceeds from all sales of the Stinky Socks going towards melanoma research. While Ashlyn didn’t say much – her smile and nod of approval as she scanned the team crowded around her said all we needed to know – and all it took her was a minute.
Arnold Lim is a media rider with Black Press. You can donate to Cops for Cancer fundraising campaign by visiting copsforcancerbc.ca/tourderock/arnoldlim
For more information on the Stinky Socks visit thesmartfoundation.ca.