When Joanne Bickford found out her lifelong friend’s three-year-old granddaughter Marley was diagnosed with leukemia, Bickford knew her time was now.
The Saanich Police reserve constable used the diagnosis as motivation and seized the opportunity to join the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock. She has a history of cycling, but it’s been a few years since she’s been in the saddle, she said.
“I was thinking about riding and that just solidified the reason to ride,” Bickford said.
Once she made the team, Bickford sent Marley’s grandmother a message on Facebook to let her know Marley was the reason Bickford decided to ride.
To make a long story short, Marley is one of Bickford’s two junior riders. And neither have cancer. Her other junior rider is Jayla, the younger sister of Kyra, who is battling cancer and is Const. Janis Carmena’s junior rider. And the recent news for Marley has Bickford over the moon.
“Marley had leukemia and she endured a successful bone marrow transplant, and is currently considered cured,” Bickford said. “She went through a 100-day stay in the hospital, and now her bone marrow transplant is complete, it is 100 per cent from someone else.”
Pediatric cancer, of course, is what Cops of Cancer is all about, Bickford said. But there’s a lot more to it.
The team of 14 riders will travel almost the full length of Vancouver Island, raising awareness and money to support the fight against childhood cancers, from Port Alice to Victoria, Sept. 24 to Oct. 7.
“The team is very close now,” Bickford said. “The team has riders from Port McNeil and Tofino, and you become close like a family, sharing the same experiences [while pursuing] the same goal of raising money for cancer research.”
For those who’ve visited Saanich’s municipal hall, Bickford has one of the most familiar faces. In addition to working as a reserve constable, she’s a 911 operator and works at the front desk at the Saanich Police station.
The team recently completed a five-day mock tour, including a 125-kilometre day in the middle, their biggest test to date.
On the fundraising front, Bickford has been very successful. She co-sponsored an event at the Prairie Inn that raised just over $9,000, and helped raise $4,000 at the Torque Masters Car Show in Sidney on Aug. 14.
She has set her sights on raising $20,000 to $25,000, and is hoping to make another jump forward when she co-hosts a Thrifty Foods barbecue on Sept. 17 at the Cloverdale location.
The money raised goes to Camp Goodtimes, the summer camp for children and teens, and their families, affected by cancer.
“Our team went and had a visit there back in July and it gives us great power to see the kids have so much fun, and that’s the reason we all ride,” said Bickford.
Bickford’s webpage for donations is tourderockjo.com.
– With files from Carlie Connolly