Emily Vance photo - Joan Lemoine shaved her head for the eighth time this year to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Anissa Rak (back) did the shaving honours, and was helped by Sophie Douthwaite (left) and Chelsea Douthwaite (right).

Island communities welcome 22nd annual Tour de Rock riders

Trio of locals in Parksville Qualicum Beach shave their heads to raise funds for cancer research

Riders in the 22nd Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock fundraiser had a celebration in their honour on Thursday night in Parksville.

The Bayside Resort was packed to the brim for the Rock Beer and Burger Night fundraiser.

The riders, who cycle from one end of the Island to the other on the tour, left Comox at 7:35 a.m. on Thursday. Along the way they stopped in Courtenay, Cumberland, Royston, Union Bay, Bowser and Qualicum Beach before ending in Parksville.

In Qualicum Beach, the team had lunch at Bailey’s Cafe before heading to Kwalikum Secondary School and Arrowsmith Elementary.

READ MORE: Tour de Rock: Meet the 2019 team to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society

In Parksville, the tour had a quick break at Thrifty Foods before heading to the Bayside Oceanfront Resort, where the fundraiser gala was held.

The team of riders is mostly composed of first responders from around Vancouver Island. They ride in the annual event to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Three brave souls shaved their heads in the annual tradition of the Tour de Rock dinner gala.

Eleanor Thompson, Darlene Thompson and Joan Lemoine all lost their locks in the name of cancer research. Darlene’s four-year-old granddaughter also chopped off part of her hair in front of the crowd and donated it be turned into a wig.

Organizers presented Lemoine with a plaque for her contributions to Tour de Rock over the years. The 89-year-old had her head shaved for the eighth time for the cause, and over the course of her lifetime has raised close to $50,000 for the organization.

Through Lemoine’s fundraising, she has sent 26 children to Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp that provides children with cancer and their families a reprieve from the stress of dealing with cancer treatments.

READ MORE: Tour de Rock ride kicks off in the North Island

Timothy Kenning is an RCMP officer with the Oceanside RCMP, and part of this year’s tour. He says the experience so far has been an amazing trip for a worthy cause.

“It’s been fantastic. We’ve covered a significant amount of Vancouver Island already from Port Alice, to Port Hardy, to Port McNeill, to Woss, to Sayward, to Campbell River, to Courtenay-Comox and all the way to here,” said Kenning.

Although the team has been through what Kenning describes as “monsoon tsunami-style rains,” his enthusiasm hasn’t dampened in the slightest.

“We’ve been covering a lot of ground, and having a lot of amazing experiences with communities, with businesses, with schools, just promoting, advocating childhood cancer [research] and the importance of raising money to help solve that riddle that exists. So yeah, it’s been pretty amazing,” said Kenning.

READ MORE: Oceanside RCMP member rides for childhood cancer research in Tour de Rock

A survivor of a serious childhood illness himself, Kenning knows firsthand the difference that advocacy and fundraising events like this can make in a child’s life.

“I wouldn’t be here today without the medical amazing staff at the children’s hospital in Vancouver. That’s where I kind of got involved with this – to help kids get the most out of life,” said Kenning.

On Friday, the team will head from Parksville to Port Alberni and make several stops in the city.

They will leave the Bayside at 7:45 a.m., then head to Cathedral Grove. In Port Alberni, the team will stop at the Peninsula Coop, John Howitt Elementary, have lunch at Boston Pizza, and then head to E.J. Dunn Elementary before having a dinner hosted by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations at the Alberni Athletic Hall.

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

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Emily Vance photo - Sophie Douthwaite makes sure she gets the cut just right as she shaves Joan Lemoine’s head at the Tour de Rock Burger and Beer fundraiser night.

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