Cops for Kids

The Daily Courier - - WESTSIDE WEEKLY - By BARB AGUIAR

Cy­clists on the 16th an­nual Cops for Kids Ride wave to onlookers as they pedal through a smoky down­town West­bank last Fri­day morn­ing. The team set off from Kelowna on a 10-day 100 kilo­me­tre ride through the RCMP’s South East District to raise money to sup­port chil­dren fac­ing ill­ness, dis­abil­ity or trau­matic cri­sis.

Twenty- ve cy­clists ped­alled through West Kelowna last Fri­day morn­ing af­ter set­ting off from Kelowna on the 16th an­nual Cops for Kids Ride.

Rid­ers took a quick break at the West Kelowna Val­ley First on a 10-day ride of close to 1000 kilo­me­tres on a cir­cle route through the Okana­gan, Koote­nay and Thomp­son re­gions.

The ride is the sig­na­ture fundraiser for the Cops for Kids Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion that raises money for chil­dren fac­ing ill­ness, dis­abil­ity or trau­matic cri­sis.

This in­cludes sup­port­ing chil­dren with just about any child­hood af­flic­tion, chil­dren who have to spend months in on­col­ogy in Van­cou­ver, pre­ma­ture ba­bies as well as pro­vid­ing mo­bil­ity in­clud­ing wheel­chairs, walk­ers and ther­a­pies.

“You name it, we’re there,” said Gail Har­ri­son, past pres­i­dent of Cops for Kids and grants co­or­di­na­tor.

Cops for Kids has raised more than $4 mil­lion since 2001.

Along the route through the RCMP’s South East District, the team will be greeted by lo­cal dig­ni­taries and chil­dren and fam­i­lies who re­ceive fund­ing from the an­nual event.

For Har­ri­son, who is on her 12th Cops for Kids ride, it’s all about help­ing chil­dren.

“We make such a dif­fer­ence to so many kids, you can’t not come back,” she said.

This year has been tough for many busi­nesses in Kelowna, Kam­loops and Pen­tic­ton; how­ever, Har­ri­son said busi­nesses have con­tin­ued to sup­port the Cops for Kids Ride.

About 85 per cent of the rid­ers are RCMP, who are joined by sup­port­ing en­force­ment agen­cies within South Eastern B.C. Each had to raise at least $2,000 to join the ride.

This is Cpl. Car­men Pen­ney of the West Kelowna de­tach­ment’s rst ride. She has wanted to do the event since she rst heard of it when she moved to Prince Ge­orge.

Now in the Okana­gan, Pen­ney took up cy­cling in June and said this is her time to ride.

“The cause is amaz­ing,” she said. While she has been for­tu­nate enough to have healthy kids, when she sees kids in need it re­ally draws her.

This is the sev­enth ride for John Bauer, an aux­il­iary with the Kelowna de­tach­ment.

Ini­tially he looked at the 1000-km ride as a chal­lenge, but said he was blown away when he met fam­i­lies with chil­dren who were strug­gling. “It changes you,” he said. He re­called meet­ing a two-year old child in Sum­mer­land who had un­der­gone open heart surgery. She was so tiny, Bauer’s hand was the size of her back.

“She was so happy to see ev­ery­body,” he said. “These lit­tle ones have hearts of war­riors.”

Along with see­ing the chil­dren, Bauer en­joys the feel­ing of ac­com­plish­ment he gets from mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, say­ing it re­ju­ve­nates him for the rest of the year.

Over the 10-day ride, the cy­clists form a bond. While they set out as in­di­vid­u­als, Bauer said they nish as friends.

The ride wraps up in Kelowna on Sept. 17. To fol­low the team's progress or make a do­na­tion, go on­line to cops­forkids.org.

BARB AGUIAR/ West­side Weekly

BARB AGUIAR/ West­side Weekly

The Cops for Kids team poses with Val­ley First staff out­side the West Kelowna lo­ca­tion last Fri­day morn­ing. The team stopped for some re­fresh­ment af­ter leav­ing Kelowna on a 10-day 1000-kilo­me­tre fundrais­ing ride.

BARB AGUIAR/ West­side Weekly

Cy­clists wave to those on the side­walk as they pedal through West­bank.

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