By Mark Dreger
The Cops for Kids cycling team arrived back in Kelowna Saturday after a 10 day ride across southern B.C. to raise money to assist children in medical crisis.
Dignitaries, RCMP leadership, families, supporters, and the Little Ambassadors, who benefit from the fundraising efforts, were in attendance at the Ramada Hotel to welcome the riders from the 16th annual Cops for Kids Ride that left Kelowna, Friday Sept. 8.
Twenty-four cyclists, who left Kelowna Sept. 8, rode into the parking lot led by a Little Ambassador riding a three wheeler. Behind the riders were two police cruisers, one of which mimicked the “Bluesmobile” cruiser from the film The Blues Brothers.
“(The ride) was excellent,” said Const. John Bauer of Kelowna, who completed his 7th annual ride this year. “We really lucked out with the weather and got to meet some pretty amazing families and kids.”
“Over the years I’ve seen colleagues of mine from my office go on these rides and I thought this year is my turn to give back a bit,” added Const. Andrew McCabe of Nelson, who completed his first Cops for Kids Ride with desire to complete more.
While Bauer, McCabe, and many others completed the whole trip, some only rode sections of the grueling trip within their communities while still raising money for kids.
“Some of the challenges were getting used to the road, the traffic, and being in a big group,” McCabe said. “You had to find your speed and find your spot. It’s not like being on your own; you just had to pace yourself well and you start being part of the team pretty quick.”
Cops for Kids raised more than $300,000 and will fund all 170 requests for assistance that Cops for Kids received this year from families in need within the southern B.C. communities.
“Unreal,” McCabe said. “I cannot believe that that’s the amount we came up with. It feels awesome because we’ve met some of the kids that the money’s going within the local communities and I know it’s going to help.”
Despite the hard work and energy to ride up and down hills and valleys to complete the full trip, Bauer and McCabe both will do this ride again.
“Those all pale in comparison to what you can see some of these little children are dealing with in their lives,” Bauer said. “It keeps us motivated just having them in the backs of our minds.”
The 10 day trip began in Kelowna and moved south to Osoyoos before riders travelled east to Cranbrook. The bikers then drove to Golden where the ride continued through Three Valley Gap, Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Vernon, and finally back to Kelowna.
“We certainly couldn’t do it individually,” Bauer said. “Every little community that we ran into has got people that are providing us lunches. Without their help this kind of stuff wouldn’t be possible.”