By Virginia Thomson
The clouds broke, and the rain stopped with perfect timing as 25 RCMP Cops for Kids cyclists arrived in Revelstoke Thursday afternoon, September 16.
The entourage normally drives this part of the 10-day, 1,000-kilometre route, but they had a special reason for cycling in to visit for the first time in three years. Not only is the Cops for Kids Ride celebrating it’s 10th anniversary, but they helped local boy Jonah Deschamps celebrate his fifth birthday outside Cooper’s with cake and balloons.
Jonah and his family have already been through a lot, due to his being born with a chromosomal abnormality requiring many hospital visits including two open-heart surgeries. His mother, Sarah, says “he has life-long issues ahead of him” and, since they have just been approved for funding, “they are very appreciative,” as he has more surgeries planned for the near future in Vancouver.
And looking out from his dingey jail cell was Mayor David Raven in hand-cuffs and a
rather flattering burgundy jailhouse outfit – officially made by Prince George inmates. Apparently he was co-operative when arrested by Const. Gary McLaughlin at approximately 2:30pm, with his only complaint being the unfinished coffee and donut left sitting on his desk. (And it was duly noted by this reporter that no-one offered him a refill while in custody.)
For a while, it seemed Mayor Raven’s fear of being unable to raise enough bail and “being left alone in the parking lot at 10pm with nobody but stray dogs for company” was a valid concern. What with total funds raised sitting at $985, they were short $15.
But with the help of EZ Rock’s enthusiastic Steve Smith and more perfect timing from local resident Terry Sutherland walking out of Cooper’s with a $20 bill in her hand, his release was assured.
It was rumoured, however, that the funds were easier collected under the guise of keeping Mayor Raven in jail, rather than for his bail. Of the ordeal, Mayor Raven found it “Extremely humbling”, but his willingness to be a good sport helped raise an estimated $1,100 – although final figures are still being tallied and could reach as high as $1,500.
Over the years, $1.2 million dollars have been raised for the medical needs of children and their families not otherwise covered by the health care system.
The RCMP riders themselves are a dedicated bunch with repeat offenders coming back year after year. To participate, the riders must personally raise $2,000, arrange time off with their detachment and buy their own gear.
There is Ken Green who served 30 years with the RCMP across Canada, and was founder of the event ten yeas ago. Even though he has been retired four years, he returns to volunteer and share the spirit. He says, “We see tangible results wherever we go.”
Then there’s Mireille Sanchez, a six-year RCMP member who now serves in Quebec, but takes her holidays and funds her own flights to fly back with her bike and participate.
Revelstoke’s own Const. Scott Guthrie is on his third tour and says, “It’s an exciting experience.”
When they face those grueling hills and inclement weather, they muster the strength needed by remembering what some little kids have to wake up and fight everyday. As Staff Sgt. Jackie Olsen says, “It’s all about the kids.”
The tour finishes up in Kelowna Sunday.