The short answer is it’s a two-week, 1,000-kilometre bike ride for a team of police officers who raise money to fight childhood cancer. But it’s so much more than that. It’s the biggest community event on Vancouver Island — unifying every community from Victoria to Port Alice as we rally together to support child who are battling cancer.
It’s almost impossible to articulate the way in which Vancouver Island residents have made the Tour de Rock one of the most successful and longest-running fundraisers in the province. It’s Vancouver Islanders — from schoolchildren and their parents to volunteers and the generous business community — who are really the backbone of the Tour de Rock. Without you, we would just be a group of people riding bikes
So where did the idea of a bike ride down Vancouver Island come from? The story goes back to 1994 and to Alberta. It was there that an Edmonton police officer named Gary Goulet befriended a young boy with cancer. Chemotherapy had robber the boy of his hair and he was being ridiculed by other kids for it.
Goulet, who already had a shaved head, wanted to show the boy that it was OK to be bald, and offered to pose for a photo with him in front of a police cruiser. Other cops joined in. In fact, seven shaved their heads for the occasion. That was the start of Cops for Cancer.
By 1997, the Cops for Cancer head shaves had reached Vancouver Island. In Greater Victoria, the local police weren’t satisfied with breaking out the razors, though; they wanted to try something bigger. A brainstorming session between the cops and the Canadian Cancer Society resulted in the suggestion of a bike ride the length of the Island.
At the time it seemed like a crazy idea. But as the goal was to raise money for children battling cancer, it was decided that the bike ride would be worth trying.
The first ride in 1998 attracted a group of 16 police officers who took up the cause. The Canadian Cancer Society enlisted the help of incredible community sponsors, including what it is now named Coast Capital Savings. In its first year, Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock raised $325,000.
Since then the amount has grown and grown. To date, Tour de Rock has raised more than $23 million for pediatric cancer research and support programs, and has spawned three other similar Cops for Cancer rides elsewhere in B.C.
The 2017 team will add to that fundraising total. So will the people of Vancouver Island, who for the last 20 years have taken it upon themselves to lead the fight against childhood cancer.
2017 Tour Schedule & Dates
- Saturday September 23: Port Alice
- Sunday September 24: Port Hardy and Port McNeill
- Monday September 25: Woss and Sayward
- Tuesday September 26: Campbell River
- Wednesday September 27: Comox and Courtenay
- Thursday September 28: Cumberland, Union Bay, Qualicum and Parksville
- Friday September 29: Port Alberni
- Saturday September 30: Tofino and Ucluelet
- Sunday October 1: Nanaimo
- Monday October 2: Nanaimo and Ladysmith
- Tuesday October 3: Chemainus, Lake Cowichan and Duncan
- Wednesday October 4: Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay, Sooke, Westshore
- Thursday October 5: Oak Bay, Victoria and Sidney
- Friday October 6: Esquimalt, Saanich, and Victoria
- Friday October 6: Grand Finale