Central Saanich rider doing it for the children

Joanne Bickford has a goal of raising $20,000 for her Tour de Rock ride.

Saanich Peninsula resident Joanne Bickford will ride in Cops for Cancer’s Tour de Rock.

For Saanich Police Reserve Constable Joanne Bickford, the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock Ride means helping out children who have cancer and those family members coping with their effects.

Last fall, Bickford’s school friend found out her three-year-old granddaughter Marley was diagnosed with leukemia. After reading the posts about her health situation on Facebook, Bickford knew the time was now to help.

“I was thinking about riding and that just solidified the reason to ride,” the Central Saanich resident told the PNR.

She later sent Marley’s grandmother a message on Facebook telling her that her granddaughter was the reason for her decision to ride, along with what Cops for Cancer is all about.

“And long story short, she’s now my junior rider. So it’s kind of gone full circle of me telling her why I’m riding and telling her about the program, and then she passed that information along to her son, which is his daughter that’s sick …”

The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is an annual cycling ride to raise money to fight childhood cancer. This year’s Tour de Rock team is comprised of 14 police officers, one media personality and two special guest riders.

They will ride the almost the full length of Vancouver Island, raising awareness and money to support the fight against childhood cancers.

Bickford, a fifth generation resident of Central Saanich — although not affected by cancer directly — has family members and close friends affected by it.

Bickford is also a 911 operator and works at the front desk at the Saanich Police Station.

Like most of the riders, Bickford has two junior riders who she will be riding for.

A Junior Rider is a child who has had cancer or is a sibling to a child who has had cancer.

Bickford will be riding for Marley and another young girl named Jayla. Jayla isn’t sick but her older five-year old sister Kyra is battling the disease.

“So if there’s one child that’s being focussed on that’s ill and going through cancer treatment then the other one is sometimes forgotten about …”  said Bickford.

Her junior rider Marley had a bone marrow transplant from a random donor and is home from the Ronald McDonald house in Vancouver. She is now cancer free and doing great.

The team began training in March and rides three times a week, doing hills on Tuesdays, speed on Thursdays and distance riding on Sundays.

Through various fundraising events, each team member on Tour de Rock sets a goal and accepts donations ongoing on their webpages at tourderock.ca.

Bickford recently had an event at the Prairie Inn, which raised just over $9,000 — but she isn’t stopping there.

She will be assisting another Saanich rider at the Torque Masters Car Show in Sidney on Aug. 14 and at another event on Sept. 17 at one of the Thrifty Foods stores in Victoria. Her goal is to raise between $20,000 to $25,000 and she is almost halfway there, at around $13,000.

“It’s for a great cause … it’s all in raising money for the kids for cancer research.

“It’s more raising awareness and money to find a cure hopefully one day and to assist with parents and allowing kids to go to Camp Goodtimes …”

Camp Goodtimes is a fun, summer recreation program for children, teens and their families, affected by cancer.

“And 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.

Through the month of August, riders will have donation boxes at the various liquor stores along with other events where people can donate to.

Bickford’s web page for donations is tourderockjo.com.