Everyone has their own personal reasons for riding in the Tour de Rock.
All three of the Saanich Police Department’s members have witnessed loved ones fight cancer, and all three have felt the pain of losing loved ones to the disease.
For Const. Doug Franklin, he lost a grandfather, two aunts and an uncle on his mother’s side.
For Const. Lisa Bruschetta, she lost a grandmother to complications from throat cancer. Her mother was also twice diagnosed with cancer – and beat it both times, and her close friend just recently completed treatment and is now in remission.
And for civilian employee Kevin Nunn, a British expat, he lost his father to lung and liver cancer hours before he was to get on a flight back to England to be with his dad.
“It’s affected everyone, directly or indirectly. Given the opportunity to make a difference monetarily or emotionally or physically, I had to jump at the chance,” Franklin said, explaining his motivation to ride.
The Saanich bicycle patrol cop has three kids, and says meeting families going through the emotions that come with having a child with cancer has put his life into perspective.
“I thank my lucky stars because I’m not burdened by the demands of having to care for one of my kids – who are all thankfully healthy. This is my way to give back,” he said.
Bruschetta, a mother of two, isn’t as lucky when it comes to the health of her children. Her eight-year-old son Dominic has neurofibromatosis, a disease that makes him susceptible to growing cancerous tumours under his skin or on his brain.
She’s riding this year to give support to families and health care officials who have given her and her family the love and support they’ve needed.
“I want to give families the same level of support I’ve received. Being in hospitals, being in cancer clinics and seeing how well they’ve taken care of my loved ones, I believe it’s a mirror image of what the Canadian Cancer Society is doing for the children and families who benefit from Tour de Rock,” she said.
Nunn, the equipment manager for Saanich police, holds a special place in his heart for Tour. For the past two years he’s held physically gruelling and financially successful fundraisers to benefit Tour de Rock.
Being named to this year’s team as a special guest rider has been life-changing. Visiting Camp Goodtimes in July, the camp for kids who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, reaffirmed to him just how good a cause he’s fighting for.
“Going to Camp Goodtimes and seeing children who are going through cancer who actually don’t realize it; they’ve forgotten that they are (going through cancer) because they’re having so much fun being a child,” he said.
This year’s Tour de Rock team is made up of 22 police officers, media riders and special guests.
The team will cycle nearly 1,100 kilometres from Port Alice to Victoria Sept. 21 to Oct. 4 raising money for pediatric cancer research and support programs like Camp Goodtimes.
All three Saanich riders say their experiences up to this point in their lives – as parents, as police officers, as former military men (both Franklin and Nunn) – haven’t prepared them for the emotions they’ll feel on Tour.
“I think that the riding is honestly going to be our easy part. I think meeting these children and families – their stories, that’s where we’re going to need to prepare ourselves,” Bruschetta said. “I’m a very emotional person, so that’s going to involve keeping my focus positive and giving out as many hugs as I can.”
“I’m a strong person,” Nunn added. “I did 22 years of the British Forces, so I’ve seen a lot of trauma, a lot of pain throughout the world. But this is something different. This is about children. This is something special.”