Deanna Jennings, Graham Bunn and Nick Poulopoulos. Jennings and Poulopoulos are the founders of the Sarah Beckett Memorial Cruise. This year’s third annual cruise takes place on Sunday, April 22, beginning at the Fountain Tire on Jacklin Road. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Annual cruise honours West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett

Sarah Beckett Memorial Cruise takes place Sunday, April 22

Hundreds of drivers, motorcyclist and others in the car community will be descending on Langford to take part in a cruise honouring West Shore RCMP officer Sarah Beckett this weekend.

As part of the third annual Sarah Beckett Memorial Cruise 2018, drivers will meet at the Fountain Tire on Jacklin Road and will drive up Island to Port Renfrew, before making the trek back.

Cruise founders Deanna Jennings, president of the Defiance car club’s Victoria chapter, and Sidney resident Nick Poulopoulos, Canada regional lead for the Nyus car club, knew a different side of Beckett.

On Saturday nights, especially in the summer, dozens of car enthusiasts would gather at the Tim Hortons on McCallum Road to show off the latest improvements to their cars. Beckett stopped by a couple of times while on duty and would chat with them about her own Mustang and asked advice on how to modify it.

She even popped the hood of the police cruiser to show off.

“For us within the car community, Sarah was really well respected,” Poulopoulos said. “She was known as the ‘cool cop.’ Sarah put herself out there … She would come down and say hi. It was a whole world that she wasn’t familiar with, but still had interest in.”

Beckett was killed after her police cruiser was broadsided by a pickup truck in the Goldstream Avenue and Peatt Road intersection in Langford during the early morning hours of April 5, 2016.

RELATED: West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett to be honoured on anniversary of her death

When the car community heard about her death, they were deeply saddened, but determined to help. The group set up an online fundraising campaign and barbecue, which raised $102,000 and was donated to Beckett’s husband and two young children. And they didn’t stop there. Roughly six years ago, the group organized a cruise in which roughly 13 car enthusiasts made the trip up Island for fun. Since then, the cruise has transformed into a way of honouring the fallen constable.

In 2017, there were roughly 125 cars that made the trip – some coming from as far away as Campbell River to participate. That year, the cruise raised close to $1,000 through the sale of decals and food donations. The funds were donated to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, which empowers youth with the critical thinking and life skills necessary to choose a drug-free life. It was a program Beckett advocated for through most of her policing career, Jennings said.

This year organizers anticipate the cruise will be even bigger and hope to raise $1,500 for the program. Donations over $100 can be made online at the DARE website.

We want to bring awareness of the DARE program because it is important to educate our children especially with the dangers that are happening out there with fentanyl overdoses. It’s better to educate them now than later,” Jennings said. “This was Sarah’s favourite program.”

The Sarah Beckett Memorial Cruise takes place on Sunday, April 22 outside Fountain Tire (2924 Jacklin Rd.). Drivers are asked to meet around 8 a.m., and the cruise will depart around 9:30 a.m. with a police escort up to the Malahat.

There will be a number of stops along the way for photo ops and bathroom breaks, including lunch at the Renfrew Hotel, before concluding where it began at Fountain Tire.

For more information visit Sarah Beckett Memorial Cruise 2018 on Facebook.

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The decals are being sold as part of the third annual Sarah Beckett Memorial Cruise 2018, which takes place on Sunday, April 22, beginning at the Fountain Tire on Jacklin Road in Langford. Funds raised go towards the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

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