For the first time in the history of the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, both Ucluelet and Tofino are represented by riders from their respective RCMP detachments.
Chris Squire, a constable in Ucluelet, started thinking about joining the ride when he spoke with several riders during a stop last year in his community. Ucluelet RCMP Sgt. Jeff Swann, while not a past rider, is a staunch supporter of the Tour de Rock, and he urged Squire to put his name in for a spot on the team.
“Jeff is a big supporter of the Tour de Rock,” Squire says. “He’s got four little kids and they all shave their heads every year. He talked me into it. It’s a good cause.”
Squire has already raised close to $10,000 for the Tour de Rock, double his original goal.
Squire lost his grandmother to cancer, but says he hasn’t had much personal experience with the disease – unlike Tofino Cpl. Andrew Waddell, who along with his wife Vicki and son Justin, have all been diagnosed with cancer in the past few years.
Squire’s junior rider this year is Brett Wasylyniuk of Port Alberni, who has been treated for rhabdomyosarcoma, or a cancer of the muscles that attach to bone.
Tofino rider Waddell’s journey with cancer has been a long one. The 27-year RCMP veteran was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1997; he had surgery to remove what could be removed, and radiation to try and hit the rest. He still lives with the tumour but says it’s stable.
Vicki has had melanoma, or early skin cancer removed, as well as some basal cell carcinomas.
Justin was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia when he was only two years old. He went through three years of chemotherapy between ages two and five. Justin is now 15 and loves to surf.
Waddell said the time is right for him to participate in the Tour de Rock. “The reason I’ve come up with is because I can. I have a family that supports me. We benefited from others and now it’s my turn, so families that can’t get out and fundraise can get out there and benefit.”
Waddell’s junior rider is James Albrecht, also from Port Alberni, and also being treated for rhabdomyosarcoma. Waddell met James at the end of July, and says he’s an amazing young man.
“It’s pretty astounding to see a young person in week 10 of 55-week chemotherapy bounding around the house like he is,” Waddell says.
“There’s guys like James that are living because money from cancer research is keeping them alive.”
Because Squire and Waddell both work in small detachments and work opposite shifts, they haven’t done much riding together outside of mandatory Tour de Rock rides with the northern team. Squire, a reformed mountain bike rider, does a lot of solo rides on his road bike, but says he prefers to ride with a group.
Waddell is known as Tofino’s “bike cop,” so he is no stranger to cycling.
Waddell cycles 175 kilometres per week between Tofino and Ucluelet for his tour training.
“I go up Radar Hill every time I go by it at the turnoff (to Highway 4),” he says.
Of course, powering up Radar Hill is nothing compared to what children with cancer suffer through, Waddell says.
And that’s why he decided to tackle the Tour de Rock this year.
“It is important to celebrate each day, cheer for every success, and not rest until cancer has been conquered.”