Whistler/Pemberton RCMP Constable Devon Jones is well on his way to reaching his $10,000 Cops for Cancer fundraising goal. His next event, a 5 km fun run and fitness walk, takes place on July 31.
Cops for Cancer began when Edmonton Police Sergeant Gary Goulet learned that a young boy, Lyle Jorgenson, was being ridiculed by his classmates because he was bald. Jorgenson was 5 years old, had cancer, and had lost his hair as a result of chemotherapy.
Goulet later met Jorgenson, and was so moved by the meeting that he decided he would try to help the boy.
Already bald himself, Goulet had his picture taken with Jorgenson in his police cruiser. He then enlisted the help of other officers whom he convinced to shave their heads and join the boy in school. Being bald was suddenly very cool.
Goulet then contacted the Canadian Cancer Society, and the rest is history. The head-shaving event caught on and a partnership was created between Canadian law enforcement officers and the Cancer Society. The partnership, known as Cops for Cancer, has raised $14 million for the Cancer Society in the last 10 years.
Constable Jones first introduction to Cops for Cancer took place last summer, while he was sitting in traffic on Highway 99. Thinking the delay was due to construction, Jones was surprised to later see that it was in fact caused by a group of bicyclists. He was even more surprised when he noticed that the riders were RCMP officers. Intrigued, Jones decided to find out what it was they were doing.
He asked around and eventually found out that the riders he saw on the highway were doing the Tour for a Friend, a fundraiser for Cops for Cancer. They were participating in an annual six-day, 600-kilometre bike ride to raise money for childhood cancer research and to support Camp Goodtimes.
Camp Goodtimes is a medically-supervised, week-long camp where children from B.C. and the Yukon who have been affected by cancer can go to escape their daily routines and enjoy being kids again.
Riders in the Tour for a Friend are partnered with a child in their community who has experienced cancer. This child is an honorary member of the tour and helps to inspire the rider.
Having lost three close friends to cancer, and having a grandmother who survived breast cancer, Jones knew he had to participate in the ride.
"When I found out that they were looking for people (for the 2004 Tour) I jumped at the chance to get involved," Jones enthused.
Jones signed up, and will be riding in this years Tour for a Friend with 15 other officers from Saturday, Sept. 18 to Saturday, Sept. 25. Jones tour is one of four taking place in B.C. this fall.
But being involved means more than just getting fit enough to ride 100 km per day for six consecutive days. RCMP officers who take part in the ride also commit to the goal of raising $10,000 in one year.
"Its a pretty big challenge, raising that amount of money," Jones said.
However, nearly one year later, it seems that Jones was unfazed by the task. According to Silveria Roselli of the Canadian Cancer Society, "hes been like a little soldier, going out and creating awareness he loves children and has a lot of heart."
Jones and his supporters have held a number of fundraising events throughout the Lower Mainland in the last year.
In Whistler, Jones collaborated with his hairdresser, Lisa Canjar, to hold an event at the Blackcomb Barber Shoppe. All of the money made by the Barber Shoppe on April 14 a total of $2,050 went to Cops for Cancer.
Deepak Prasad of the West Coast First Responders Charitable Society also helped Jones by organizing several successful pub nights in Vancouver and on the Sunshine Coast.
Jones, originally from Grimsby, Ont., credits his friends and supporters for the success of his fundraising efforts.
"Everybodys been fantastic" he exclaimed. "Its been a really positive experience."
In fact, Jones is already talking about doing it all again next year.
Jones next fundraising event is Whistlers first-ever 5 km Fun Run and Fitness Walk. The run will take place on Saturday, July 31 at 9 a.m., beginning at the Lost Lake Warming Hut and finishing at Spruce Grove.
Jones emphasizes that the run/walk is all about fun, and anyone can participate.
To pre-register bring $25 to Surefoot (under Earls, to the left of Starbucks). The first 100 participants to register will receive a free T-shirt. Participants may also register the day of the race for $25 from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Lost Lake Warming Hut. There will be prizes and a fun run for kids at the finish line. All proceeds go to Cops for Cancer.