Thunderous roars greeted the Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley team at two Aldergrove schools Thursday morning when the cyclists rolled into the school gyms.
The good cheer and spirit the team brought to hundreds of youths was also tinged with bittersweet poignancy as the assemblies shared recollections of the children who lost their battles with childhood cancer alongside the stories of those who conquered the disease.
Christopher Sperger was a seven year old Shortreed elementary school student when he finally succumbed to his long battle with cancer six years ago. The tour's first stop Thursday morning was at Shortreed where the assembly commemorated the popular youngster's memory.
His mother, Theresa, presented each team member with a set of beads, in thanks for their support during his battle with cancer. Christopher had been a junior team member of the Tour de Valley and had thoroughly enjoyed accompanying the cyclists in one of the convoy vehicles.
"It's very emotional but a good emotion," Theresa told The Star.
"After six years they still remember him, and share stories about him among themselves. As a mother, you can't ask for more."
The team's next stop was at Aldergrove secondary, where the tour's official opening ceremonies were held in front of the middle and high school students.
Junior team member Emmily Eckert, 18, of White Rock, received rousing applause from the students as she talked about her eight year involvement with Cops for Cancer. Her battle began with chemo at age five, but she has now been in remission for nine years.
"I have been honoured to be part of the Cops for Cancer for eight years," said Eckert.
"They have brought hope and joy into a difficult situation, have cheered my miracle, and I am grateful."
Cops for Cancer captain Chris Rosenberger, who serves with the Canadian Border Services Agency in Aldergrove, also spoke of his own daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer at age two but is now in remission and is a happy little girl starting Kindergarten. He thanked the high school for raising $800 for Cops for Cancer by logging 800 kms on stationary bikes and told the assembly that credit goes out to all youths who have supported the tour with fundraising: "It's about kids helping other kids."
Assistant captain Trevor Sales, of Abbotsford City Police, said team volunteers had also shared the Camp Goodtimes experience with young cancer survivors: "It was an absolutely wonderful time; a place where they could be regular kids."
Since the B.C. run started on Vancouver Island in 1998, Cops for Cancer has expanded into four tours which have raised over $25 million collectively to fund programs and research for children with cancer. There have been growing successes in treatment, as currently 82 per cent of children survive their cancer battles.
All of the Aldergrove schools also held their School Terry Fox Runs on Thursday, following the Cops for Cancer visit.
The Cops for Cancer team is scheduled to pass through White Rock on Friday, Abbotsford on Saturday, Hope on Sunday, Chilliwack on Monday and Mission on Tuesday. They will then ride through Ladner, Tsawwassen, Surrey and North Delta on Wednesday, before returning to Abbotsford on Thursday and Friday.
As of Thursday morning the Tour de Valley has raised more than $200,000 this year.
Visit copsforcancer.ca to make a donation and find out more about Cops for Cancer.
HARRY HUNT PHOTO
Cops for Cancer junior team member Grace Ogilvy with her dad, Dave, a team member and officer with Delta Police.
HARRY HUNT PHOTO
Junior team member Emmily Eckert (right) presented beads to each one of the Cops for Cancer riders Thursday morning.