Emotions ran high during the Tour de Rock visit to Lake Cowichan Secondary on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The cyclists rode into town with a escort of police cars and motorcycles that could be heard sounding their sirens across town.
“This is the fifteenth year, and Lake Cowichan has been such a supportive community, so thanks for doing this again this year,” announced Robin Farrell from 107.3 FM in Victoria. “This school is awesome! It’s one of our favourite stops on the tour.”
Riders were introduced to the crowd and several community members were acknowledged for their support and fundraising efforts before the traditional head shaving began.
Matt Kercher, a local youth who struggled with cancer when he was young, was the first local resident to take the stage.
“I know some of you have probably heard me talk about camp because I rave about it after summer every year,” said Kercher. “Camp is a fun time, it’s a great time. It makes you feel accepted. Everyone was great to me when I came back here, everyone accepted me, but a lot of kids don’t have that opportunity, so to have camp is like a second home where they can go.”
A host of locals joined Kercher on the stage, including Jeremy Kruk, his daughter Brooklyn, and his wife Cindy, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March.
Kruk, a Lake Cowichan resident, works for SureSpan and says the company got behind efforts to raise funds for the cause.
“SureSpan donated $10 for every barrier that was sold for the Malahat,” said Kruk.
The total donated by the company was $10,440, making it the biggest donation at the Lake Cowichan event this year.
“My boss, Jason Kearns, was the one who initially started this,” explained Kruk. “We’ve had several people at work that have had cancer or have family members who were sick with it.”
There was no shortage of individuals who had worked to raise funds for the event this year. Doug Liske, who dyed his hair blue and pink on Sept. 23, raised $500, and had his head shaved on Oct. 2.
Margaret Ryan also had her head shaved and raised $370 from friends, family, and neighbours towards the cause.
Hayley Tovey, an LCSS student, had her long hair cut short after the event, and is donating her locks to the Canadian Cancer Foundation. She says her goal was to raise $200, but she managed to raise a total of $410.
Justin Maizis, who owns Orka Adventures along with his brother Ryan and father Darren, is another local who has battled cancer. Maizis donated $500 to the cause; funds that were raised through the bottle collection done by his company along the river during the summer and split between Tour de Rock and the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship River Clean-up.
Not all of the action occurred at LCSS, Palsson Elementary had their own celebration and fundraising efforts as well.
A gym full of students each got a chance to add a strip of duct tape that kept teacher Camila Bhandari taped to the wall. Each strip meant $5 towards the cause. Teacher Kris Poole, after having his hair died purple by his neighbour’s kids, had his head shaved during the event as well.
In all, Palsson raised $729, and LCSS raised $249, not including Tovey’s donation.
Jenn Pollner of Country Grocer reports that approximately $2,700 was raised through the kilometres fundraiser.