Spectrum Community School was thumping on Friday as the school’s marching band drummed in this year’s 2018 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team of 22 riders.
The 21st annual Tour de Rock peloton features a heavy influence of Greater Victoria police officers and emergency responders plus a couple of special guests, John de Roo of Courtenay radio station The Eagle and Yvonne Raymond of CTV Vancouver Island.
And there was one other rider who seemed to be quite popular despite showing up late and hiding somewhere under the bleachers instead of lining up during the traditional Tour de Rock introduction.
The 500-plus students were so loud when recently retired Spectrum principal Rob House was introduced as the 22nd rider he had to remind them he’s happy in retirement.
“Oh my God, It is so incredibly awesome to see you (students again), this is such a special moment, but I’m not coming back,” jested House in front of the jam-packed, cheering crowd. “I have been waiting for this day for so long, I’ve waited five months for this moment… this is a rare, special privilege.”
In 2016 House did his own mini Tour de Rock, riding Vancouver Island with a support team of his wife and their old, ailing dog.
“I sent an email out twice to a bunch of people I knew and raised $7,700,” House said. “I did the 525-kilometre ride from Port Hardy to Victoria in 4.5 days.”
During Friday’s launch Spectrum was well represented not only with House, the popular principal who ended his career at Spectrum in December, but also with 2016 Tour de Rock alum and Spectrum grad Mena Westhaver, a recreational programmer with Saanich who is on the Tour de Rock steering committee.
Life dealt the Westhaver household, in Strawberry Vale, a threatening turn when her son Jack, now 15, was diagnosed with cancer days prior to his sixth birthday.
“One thing we had a choice in was how we would manage this new life, hearing the words ‘your son has cancer,’” Westhaver said. “Spectrum, I challenge you… to maximize your potential.”
Since it started in 1998, the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock has raised more than $24 million towards pediatric cancer research and Camp Goodtimes.
Starting on Sept. 22 the team of 22 riders will cycle more than 1,100 kilometers from Port Alice to Victoria, ending on Oct. 5, an 1,100km journey.
Among the locals on this year’s Tour de Rock team are VicPD’s Sgt. Derek Tolmie, who was one of the original volunteers for Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock in 1997 and 1998. However, he never rode it as team member until this year.
“When I am struggling and hurting, whether on the ride or in training, I will remember Christopher Swain the young teen who succumbed to cancer just weeks after we completed the first tour,” Tolmie said. “When I met him, and tried to bring comfort to him through words, although I felt I failed, he succeeded in bringing comfort to me. He was truly a special person who taught me what real courage looks like.”
The 2018 Tour de Rock team is:
1. Benjamin Leah – Port Hardy RCMP
2. Nicole Emery – Oyster River Fire Rescue
3. Jon De Roo – 97.3 The Eagle
4. Andrew Quinn – Courtenay Fire
5. Allison Roberts – RLC Parks and Service
6. Amanda McRae – BCAS & Tofino Fire
7. Shane Coubrough – Nanaimo RCMP
8. Trevor Nettleton —Nanaimo RCMP
9. Matt Arnsdorf – CFB Esquimalt Fire
10. Antoine Leblanc – Military Police Unit Esquimalt
11. Kyle Ross – West Shore RCMP
12. Brent Vose – West Shore RCMP
13. Jay Krieger – Victoria Airport Fire
14. Ian Hynes —Victoria Police Department
15. Mike Sherman —Victoria Police Department
16. Michael Johnston —Victoria Police Department
17. Derek Tolmie —Victoria Police Department
18. Dane Nicholson —Saanich Police Department
19. Michael Welle – Saanich Police Department
20. Greg Stubbs —BC Ambulance Service
21. Yvonne Raymond – CTV Vancouver Island
22. Rob House – Spectrum School – Retired principal