On Wednesday morning, Sept. 21, 34 riders on the Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley team began a nine-day, 800 kilometre journey through the Fraser Valley in Langley, where students at the Langley Fine Arts School cheered them on their way.
Among the well-wishers waving and smiling as the cyclists pedalled into the school gymnasium were Murrayville resident Alisha Openshaw and her twin three-year-old sons, Bennett and Winston, who were recently diagnosed with an identical type of leukemia.
With older brother Jackson, the pair handed out beads for the riders to add to their wristbands.
“Its great to see many people out and supporting and bringing awareness to childhood cancer,” Alisha told the Langley Advance Times.
“I think it’s great. I work as a paramedic and there’s a lot of paramedics riding also,” she noted.
Weston was diagnosed in April, and four months later, tests confirmed his brother Bennett had the exact same type of cancer.
In an online update, Alisha reported Bennett has just completed his first round of treatment and is in remission, and while Weston is responding “really well” to his treatments, he is still in the high-risk category because he had more cancer cells in his spinal fluid than his brother did at diagnosis.
“We’re fairly new, still, into this journey,” Alisha commented.
“We’re still learning abut all the foundations and all the organizations that get together and support childhood cancer.”
It is one of several rides that bring together law enforcement and emergency services personnel to raise money for childhood cancer research and a national support system for families affected by childhood cancer. This year’s Valley fundraising goal is $300,000, with just over $275,000 raised as of Wednesday.
Cops for Cancer started in 1997 when Edmonton Staff Sergeant Gary Goulet convinced his fellow officers to shave their heads in support of a five-year-old boy who was being ridiculed at school for being bald due to chemotherapy.
Approximately 1,000 Canadian children 14 and younger are diagnosed with cancer each year, and 110 die from the disease.
More pictures from day 1 of the Cops for Cancer Ride can be viewed on the Langley Advance Times Facebook page.
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