When Lori Fennessy’s son Conor was 15-years-old, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma.
Treatment for his rare type of cancer was intensive and surprisingly expensive.
“We had great benefits—I work for Interior Health—but there are things that aren’t covered,” said Lori.
They were supporting two households, with Conor and Lori at Ronald McDonald House and everyone else still at home in the Okanagan, to start.
“You need groceries and all kind of different things,” she said. “Plus there are times you haven’t slept in 24 hours so you don’t want to cook and you think, ‘let’s just order a pizza.’”
Then there was the medication.
RELATED: COPS FOR KIDS
“The very first prescription we got after the first round of chemo … I dropped it off at the pharmacy and I went back to the room to get Conor and I went back,” she said. “The woman said how are you paying for this, and I handed her my credit card. Then she said it was $1,300-some-odd.”
The prescription — a drug that helped regenerate stem cells — was only for 10 days and not covered under her plan, so it went on the credit card.
“Conor also had to have a walker, and there were things like that,” she said.
At the time, Cops for Kids was giving financial grants for families in need and they received the help in 2006, when they needed it most.
“Conor went through treatment and he passed away in 2008 — he was 17,” said Lori.
On the day of his funeral, one of the people she met through Cops for Kids reached out, as she had many times before.
“And that’s when I said, when I’m ready I want to come volunteer with you guys,” she said.
So she has, over and over again. Last year she drove behind the cyclists in a support capacity and other times she volunteered at the golf tournaments.
The cause is important to her because she knows funds raised go to families like hers, families in dire need.
That’s why Claudia Wytrwal with South East District’s general investigative team is hopping on her bike for the 1,000 km ride, despite what looked to be at the outset of the ride, dangerously smoky conditions.
“Last year we gave $25,000 for the pediatric ward. This year we helped families displaced by fire and last year we helped a little girl who needed new orthotics,” she said.
The ride, she said, gives money to children in the community who need it most and knowing that gives every rider pedal power along the way.
“What we’re going through is not a fraction of what these families and kids are dealing with,” she said.
Al Hildebrandt has also been motivated by knowing that the people who are benefiting most are those who need the help.
“Our family has been sponsoring Cops for Kids for about six years in varying degrees,” he said. “When the chance came to help them up from a donor perspective, we looked around and said what are the good causes, what are the ones that are well run and what are the ones that are getting dollars to the end cause?”
That’s when he came up with Cops for Kids.
“I wholeheartedly believe in the cause, I’ve seen what they do,” he said.
Hildebrandt has been so inspired by the ride this year he took part in the first leg, to Penticton.
“I don’t pretend to be fit like all of these guys but but it’s a new challenge,” he said.
Each rider has volunteered and trained on their own time, in addition to raising a minimum of $2,000 in order to be a part of the team.
The ride is now at its halfway point, with 25 riders, six support staff from the RCMP and supporting enforcement agencies from across the RCMP’s south-east district pedalling for others — and there is still time to give.
During their 10-day fundraising journey, the Cops for Kids riders will cycle nearly 1,000 kilometres through mountainous terrain across the Okanagan, Kootenay and Thompson regions that encompasses the RCMP’s South East District and pass through 18 communities.
Along their route, they’ll be greeted by local dignitaries and their “Little Ambassadors” who receive funding from the annual event.
They will also still receive donations. Knowing how to donate can be found through website at www.copsforkids.org.