By the time they get to the starting line in Port Alice, the riders in the annual Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock cycling benefit have spent months in grueling training and, for some, even more grueling fundraising events.
When the ride itself begins, they’re ready to make some memories. And Port Alice never disappoints.
The remote village of 800 stepped up once again Saturday night in the annual seafood dinner and auction. In a lively — some might say raucous — event at the local Legion Hall, this little band that could raised more than $12,000 for the tour’s cause: trips to pediatric cancer victims to Camp Goodtimes and pediatric cancer research.
There will be much more money donated by the time the tour rolls across the finish line in Victoria next week, but it’s inconceivable that any single community will produce more per-capita funding.
Admittedly, the auction benefits from contributions from individuals and businesses across the North Island. Still, this generosity is hardly limited to a once-a-year event for Port Alice, whose tight-knit residents regularly band together to help out fellow residents in time of need.
But it’s not just about the money.
As riders enter the cramped hall, crowded with ticket-holders, they probably feel like they’re entering a family gathering. The locals quickly make them part of that family, with each table “adopting” a rider and providing a keepsake nameplate.
Through little more than a quirk of geography — and a connecting highway — Port Alice is blessed with this chance to make the first impression on riders. And, while much of the tour’s support crew consists of multi-year veterans, nearly all of the riders are participating in the ride for the first time.
Indeed, quite a number have never even seen Port Alice before rounding the corner to the stunning vista of Neurotsis Inlet.
By the time they reach the finish line in Victoria, the cops and media riders of the tour will have made dozens of stops in communities the length of Vancouver Island.
They’ll have just as many memories to take with them as they resume their day-to-day lives. But we have a feeling that party on the eve of their big ride will continue to hold a place of prominence.