My name is Lisa Harrison and I am the North Island Tour de Rock Coordinator.
I just got home from one of the most incredible, life-changing weeks of my life. It started off in Port Alice where I was met with hugs and a warm welcome into the Tour de Rock family by the 24 Tour de Rock riders and 22 support crew.
Every night the riders and crew got together to talk about the day. As I sat back and listened each night I was amazed and moved by everyone’s stories, their positive attitudes and their determination to do a great job. The professional and positive manner of the road boss and support crew was superb, encouraging the riders every night.
From early morning till late at night we were a team. We encouraged each other with high fives, hugs and reminders that we are doing all this for the kids. Each stop — little or big — was special.
Touching moments that stuck in my head include: the small village of Port Alice that fed us an unbelievable seafood dinner and raised $12,000; Port Hardy and Port McNeill were sunny and beautiful with amazing small-town hospitality; Woss was the first school stop, the riders got to meet the kids with their huge hearts and big hugs; in Sayward the whole community came out with warm dishes of food, filling the gym from one end to the other and raising $14,000. I remember Campbell River, where the community opened its doors in the pouring rain and wind to keep our riders warm and their bellies full. They graciously raised around $90,000. Then, off to Courtenay, Comox Valley and Cumberland — one of the longest days but also one of the most emotional and rewarding, with head shaves, junior riders, tons of schools, over $40,000 raised. We honoured a past rider, Mike Lawless, who is battling cancer and remembered Dave Smart, lost 10 years ago to melanoma.
Many schools had been unable to do their usual fundraising efforts due to the strike but the most important thing to the Tour de Rock riders was being able to meet the kids. So many schools opened their doors and hearts to our riders. Some schools intend to fundraise now that they are back in session. It was touching and special for all the Tour riders to have the chance to meet all the kids.
For me, what sticks out the most in my heart was meeting five-year-old Natalia Corrigall and her family in Campbell River. Natalia is battling leukemia. All 24 riders and several support crew surrounded the family and listened to her story — there wasn’t a dry eye. That was the moment for me when I realized why I am doing all this. When I had the chance to meet the family it brought me to my knees and almost left me speechless. I had to stop the tears and look that little girl and her mother in their eyes and I could see their hearts were filled with joy and hope for the future. All because of the Tour riders and communities working so hard and fundraising to help kids like her fight and beat this illness.
My experience with the Tour de Rock 2014 was full of love, laughter, tears and crazy emotions. But mostly it was filled with proud moments; pride that I got to help each community come together with the Tour riders, and help raise money for kids with cancer.
North Island Tour de Rock Coordinator