What is Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock?

The short answer is it’s a two-week, 1,200-kilometre bike ride for a team of first responders who raise money for children and their families affected by pediatric 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 children 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 robbed 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 $26 million for pediatric cancer research and support programs like Camp Goodtimes. Tour de Rock started a domino effect, launching three other Tours across British Columbia riding in support of Cops for Cancer.

The 2020 Tour de Rock Team will hit the road again this fall,  with a goal of $1.3 million. We thank the supporters and communities across Vancouver Island, who for the last 23 years have taken upon themselves the mission of creating a world where no Canadian fears cancer.

2020 Tour Schedule & Dates

  • Wednesday September 23rd – The North (Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Woss and Sayward)
  • Thursday September 24th – Campbell River & Comox Valley
  • Friday September 25th – Qualicum/Parksville
  • Saturday September 26th – Port Alberni/Ucluelet/Tofino
  • Sunday September 27th – Nanaimo
  • Monday September 28th – Ladysmith/Chemainus
  • Tuesday September 29th – Cowichan Valley/Shawnigan
  • Wednesday September 30th – Mill Bay/Langford/Sooke
  • Thursday October 1st – Sidney
  • Friday October 2nd – Victoria