As temperatures climbed during yet another heatwave, five-year-old Raylee put a helmet over her close-cropped hair and climbed on her bicycle to ride down Cowrie Street.
On Aug. 25, the young cancer patient, her supporters and Cst. Chris Mager were escorted through downtown Sechelt as they raise funds for Cops for Cancer. Her family collected donations along their route, as passersby waved and clapped the riders on.
With determination visible on her face, Raylee kept up a quick pace, and was excited to arrive back at the Sechelt RCMP detachment to a small crowd cheering her on with balloons.
This September, two police officers from the Sunshine Coast RCMP detachment will be setting out on the 900-kilometre bike ride, taking on about 100 kilometres for nine consecutive days. Constables Patrick Fox and Mager will join colleagues from other detachments serving coastal B.C. for the Tour de Coast fundraiser, embarking Sept. 21 through Sept. 29.
For Cst. Chris Mager, his mission is also a personal one. In 2020, his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. This ride — Mager’s second with Tour de Coast — is in support of her as well. According to his donation page, Mager hopes to raise $6,000 for childhood cancer research and supportive services at the Canadian Cancer Society. Before the practice ride, donors had already given $1,163 to his cause.
One of the major beneficiaries of the fundraiser is Camp Goodtimes, where kids with cancer can go to camp, with all of the medical support they require. Money raised will also go toward research to improve cancer treatments, prevent cancer, offer community services and toward risk reduction information.
“It totally breaks your heart anytime you see kids have to go through that process and how hard it is on them,” Mager said.
The Coast, with its many hills and traffic on the highway, is “a really challenging place to train,” Mager said, but makes the tour easier. Raylee’s mom told Mager that Raylee too has been practicing riding her bike “like crazy” lately. The practice ride through Cowrie Street was to “try to make a super special, exciting day where she was the star, all the attention was on her, and all her work and challenges are highlighted,” Mager said.
“The hope was that we could spoil her like crazy and make her feel super special. I hope we did that,” he added.
The Tour de Coast group has raised $323,628 as of Aug. 25 — approximately 53 per cent of their $600,000 goal.