A bike brigade chaperoned by the RCMP started in Kelowna on Friday morning and it is going to the Southern Interior for a great cause.
The 22nd annual Cops for Kids ride started just after 8 a.m. on Sept. 8 as the 24 participating riders left the Sandman Hotel in Kelowna to make their way down to Peachland. In total, the ride is 10 days long and riders will cycle nearly 1,000 kilometres. They travel the same route every year.
Since 2001, the non-profit charity has been raising money to help children who are going through a medical, physical or traumatic crisis. In that time, they’ve raised more than $6.1 million, helping more than 3,100 children.
“All the money that we raise goes to the kids within our area,” said Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Cpl. Tania Finn. “We’d love to be able to support those families, so the more donations we get, the more families we can help out.”
Finn also stated that so far in 2023, Cops for Kids has received 365 requests for financial assistance, which is already more than they received in all of 2022. Right now, the charity spends more than $13,000 a month to help families in need. Finn also said that with enough support from the local communities over the next 10 days during the ride, they should be able to reach their financial goal for the year.
The annual Cops of Kids charity 10-day bike ride started in #Kelowna! 24 riders are going through the southeast of B.C. to raise money for children going through medical, physical, or traumatic crisis. @KelownaCapNews @BlackPressMedia pic.twitter.com/3KbvNktDHG
— Jordy Cunningham (@CunninghamJordy) September 8, 2023
This year’s riders feature current and former RCMP officers as well be members of B.C. Corrections and B.C. Sheriffs and a few members of the public. On top of working long hours during the busiest time of the year with the Grouse Complex of wildfires in the Central Okanagan, these riders have continued to find time to train for the 10-day endeavour.
“This year, for our local riders, it’s been extra challenging,” said Finn. “Many of us worked the evacuations and many of the riders were even evacuated themselves. They were working long hours and still managed to train in smoky conditions in order to be prepared for this ride.”
And on top of the wildfires, is the recent landslide on Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland, which is forcing the route to have a slight detour on the opening day of the event.
“Usually we ride right down Highway 97 but this year we are unable to do that so we’re going to have to load up the bikes in Peachland and drive around through Aspen Grove to Okanagan Falls where we’re going to pick up the ride again,” said Finn.
“We weren’t exactly sure how this was going to look this year because of what we’ve all seen happening in our communities the last few weeks, from fires to landslides. We weren’t sure if you’d be riding road bikes or mountain bikes,” said RCMP Southeast District Supt. David Greig, getting a laugh from the group ahead of the ride.
West Kelowna Const. Stefanie Wainman is taking part in the event for the second time.
“This is a great cause,” Wainman told Capital News. “This is not an easy ride, the days are long but the people in the communities we visit are fantastic.”
Cops For Kids has many supporting sponsors that help out every year, including Stutters Restoration, who presented a cheque to the cause during a presentation before the riders left.
“There’s economic chaos, there’s political chaos, there’s a lot of chaos around us and the best antidote to chaos is a little bit of hope,” said Stutters Restorations vice president Cameron Stutters. “When families are going through a hard time and there’s a loved one or a little one that’s sick, there’s a lot of chaos in that home. Today as you ride, you bring a little bit of hope to those families facing challenges.”
The 10-day challenge is going through 26 communities and will stop to meet kids and families Cops for Kids has helped out at each stop.
“We really appreciate everyone’s support along the road,” added Finn. “We’d love the community to come out and cheer us on.”