Collector coins commemorate Cops for Cancer kids

The Cops for Cancer challenge coins, highlight honorary junior riders in Tour de Coast, Rock, Valley and North, as a fundraiser for the annual campaign. (Courtesy Ahmed Bouchiba)The Cops for Cancer challenge coins, highlight honorary junior riders in Tour de Coast, Rock, Valley and North, as a fundraiser for the annual campaign. (Courtesy Ahmed Bouchiba)
Tour De Coast rider Ahmed Bouchiba championed the idea of challenge coins, highlighting junior riders, as a fundraiser for the annual Cops for Cancer campaign. (Courtesy Ahmed Bouchiba)Tour De Coast rider Ahmed Bouchiba championed the idea of challenge coins, highlighting junior riders, as a fundraiser for the annual Cops for Cancer campaign. (Courtesy Ahmed Bouchiba)

Four coins featuring four strong kids marks the latest endeavour as Cops for Cancer engages communities raising awareness and funds for children and families.

This year, the four Cops for Cancer cycling tours collaborated on a Challenge Coin Set. Each site – Tour de Rock, Tour de Valley, Tour de Coast and Tour de North – selected an honorary rider who dressed as their favourite superhero.

For the Tour de Rock coin, Nanaimo RCMP Const. Shane Coubrough, an alumni of the 2018 ride, chose 11-year-old Kaiden Finley of Parksville. Kaiden died March 21, 2019 after a long battle with brain cancer.

“I am grateful that I was able to participate in the tour that year and get to know Kaiden and his incredible family. They showed up at every fundraiser and are tireless supporters of the Tour de Rock. While he underwent numerous operations and procedures, Kaiden carried a small Flash figurine as he was his favourite comic book character,” Coubrough said.

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Halfway through that tour the team learned Kaiden’s cancer had returned and there were no treatment options other than to make his time left as comfortable and jam-packed with fun as possible.

“The news galvanized our team and we adopted Flash’s lightning bolt as a way to show our support for not only Kaiden, but all of the families facing similar situations. The lightning bolt has continued to be worn by riders to represent not only how far we have come in treating pediatric cancer but how far we have to go,” said Coubrough, who also served as a 2019 Tour De Rock trainer and in 2020 was a trainer and rider.

Each tour’s coin has a similar story and it started with Tour de Coast rider Ahmed Bouchiba who championed the idea, reached out to fellow tour alumni for suggestions for junior riders and did much of the design work.

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Now in his third year riding, Bouchiba a former deputy sheriff, serves as a co-captain. As a teen, Bouchiba’s mom was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. The doctors removed her stomach and though she is cancer-free now, she has been living with the side effects of treatment since.

“I ride to help fundraise for research and in hope that one day we will find a cure for this disease that doesn’t discriminate and affects many every day,” he said.

When COVID-19 impacted the 2020 ride and associated fundraising, Bouchiba created a coin for Tour de Coast that raised more than $8,000. This year he invited the other tours in B.C. to create a collection.

Tour de Coast’s junior rider is Casey Wright.

Described as a courageous and determined young man who has battled cancer and won many times since he was a baby, Casey is still in and out of hospitals for a variety of reasons, Bouchiba said. “He does it with a smile on his face, and his outlook on life is inspiring. His motto as he says has always been ‘hope and love’.

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Morgan Nixon, a primary worker with Correctional Service of Canada is doing a second year riding with Tour de Valley.

“I knew how much Cops for Cancer helped kids and their families but until riding, I didn’t realize how much it would also affect me. Seeing how much these families go through and seeing how positive they are through it all has shown me how we can all be more resilient, and that a bad day for me is nothing compared to what some of these kids have gone through,” Nixon said.

That team’s coin features Peyton on the back. Hailed as a true superhero, she’s fought cancer and has given back to help other kids for multiple years. “From donating hair for wigs to being one of our challenge coin stars this year, Peyton is an amazing example of how strong and determined the Cops for Cancer honorary members are. This year she’s our Wonder Woman,” Nixon said.

Tour de North rider Const. Matthew Yu has been part of BC RCMP North District since 2017. He started out by helping with the tour events as it rode through Chetwynd and eventually was inspired to join as a rider in 2020 and 2021.

Their honorary rider is Chase, diagnosed at three with a Wilms tumour on his left kidney, as well as uneven growth development on the left side of his body. Because of early detection, chemo treatments worked and shrunk the tumour. To date Chase has yearly visits with his oncologist at BC Children’s and his orthopedic doctor.

“During his treatments, if asked how he was doing or how old he was, his answer to everyone was always ‘I am big and strong’,” Yu said.

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Currently about 80 per cent of all children diagnosed thrive long term. Unfortunately, this also means that one in four children fall to the disease, Coubrough noted. “Kaiden lost his courageous battle in 2019 but continued to champion the cause no matter how sick he got because he wanted nothing more than for no other kid to go through what he did.”

This coin set was largely presold with an order placed this summer, and anyone looking for one would need to seek out a challenge coin group online.

“Hopefully this becomes an annual effort between the tours highlighting a different superhero each year,” Coubrough said.

c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca


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