Students gather to welcome the Cops for Cancer riders

Last Friday, SMUS Head Prefect Maya Achuthan announced the arrival of the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock 2023 riders as they rolled their bikes into the Christine Duke Theatre. The lunch hour was perfect timing to “go big” with the annual festival, said Reagan Daly, Head of Experiential Education, Service and Global Expeditions.

This year’s event put the collaboration acumen of both the Art and Service Councils front-and-centre as the groups went all-out to engage SMUS students in the spirit of fun while aiming to raise awareness and drum up dollars in support of childhood cancer research.

The festivity music was a hit, said Daly; a student band served up songs with a nod to the ‘90s—jamming out Guns N’ Roses and Green Day covers—while performances by Math Department Head Mat Geddes and students belted out hits via open mic in their individual efforts to donate to the cause. 

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

Other featured activities included the coveted bake sale, the cotton candy machine, and hair hijinx that saw Spanish teacher Clayton Daum donate his lustrous locks in exchange for proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society

In total, the student initiatives raised approximately $5,000 for the event which is one of the largest fundraising events of childhood cancer research in the country, according to the Society’s website. 

“It was a really cool atmosphere,” Daly added, noting the fundraiser—themed for SMUS's second Service Day this fall—was a terrific momentum-building example of our community showing up to donate and demonstrate their support for Cops for Cancer along with their gratitude and pride for this year’s riders. 

The 26th annual,14-day, 1,200 km trek down Vancouver Island also helps fund Camp Goodtimes whose “summer and year-round programs are designed to foster independence, increase confidence and create an environment of understanding and support” for children and youth who’ve been diagnosed with cancer.

“For every thousand dollars raised, that is the cost for sending a young person to Camp
Goodtimes for a week,” noted Daly, pointing out the camp’s vision to allow “kids with cancer to just be kids.”

In the two weeks leading up to the SMUS fundraising drive, Daly said teachers presented a homeroom slideshow to “showcase the riders’ north-to-south journey down Vancouver Island, and their stops along the way”—of which, significantly, their SMUS stop happened to herald the last day of their ride.

Cycles of Coordination

Also in the lead-up was a special Senior School assembly visit by Constable Steve Robinson of the Saanich Police Department who captivated the crowd with a talk Daly described as “authentic and powerful.”

Robinson spoke to students about his past experiences as a Cop for Cancer rider (his wife was part of this year’s team) and shared his photos of the event. 

“It was a nice way to give the students some awareness about the cause and provide some context before the riders arrived on Friday,” said Daly. 

“What struck me and a lot of the kids was the power they have in terms of fundraising to make a difference for other people, simply by making very minor changes to their lifestyle.”

For example, Daly cited Robinson’s simple math which, essentially, stated that “the amount required to send just one child to camp for a week would only require a handful of students trying to raise $40 or $50."

“Basically,” Daly explained, “if just 20 people were able to do that through selling baked goods, or hosting bottle drives, or giving up their own money—(or, like Mr. Daum, their hair!)—while that can be a relatively minor shift in their own life, it can provide a kid a whole week at camp. I think Steve framed that really well.” 

The riders’ overall fundraising goal was to raise $1 million. By 4:30 that Friday when the Cops for Cancer riders at long-last reached their final destination—the B.C. Legislature—for the big reveal, they had surpassed their goal by nearly $28,000.