BC Ambulance paramedic Jessica Friesen is cheering on the home community of Prince Rupert with a ‘go get ‘em’ spirit after donation efforts for the annual Cops for Cancer -Tour de North ride have situated her currently in a fourth-place fundraising position.
Friesen, participating for the second time in the 780 kilometres cycling trek from Prince George to Prince Rupert, has raised more than $4,000 to go toward pediatric cancer research. She hopes to raise more, and donations can be made online.
“Anyone can make a difference,” she said. “change started where effort begins.”
“The community is super supportive. I did some fundraising outside of Safeway. Most people were super willing to donate what they could in these tough times, as well as local businesses in town. It has been super encouraging,” she said.
The North Coast paramedic is currently behind the out-of-town front-runner, RCMP officer Elisabeth MacKay, who has generated $10,640 in funds, and Prince Rupert firefighter Jordan Vendittelli with more than $5,546.
Friesen said that many people are aware of cancer in adults and the less healthy, so it’s easier to understand in that demographic.
“But, people forget that it’s pediatrics too. So, it’s nice to see specific fundraising going toward kids. When kids are fighting the exact same battle, it is so much tougher to see.”
The Tour de North is a pelaton, not a race, Friesen explained, where riders group together to complete a road cycle trek. Better times and progress can be made in a group effort as it reduces the cyclists’ force and drag.
“I’m looking forward to that because I’ve done it before. It was challenging the first time, but I’ve definitely put in a lot more time kilometres this time than I did before.”
Training started in March for Friesen and consists of three rides a week up to 150 km. Sometimes she goes it alone, with a friend, or with some other participants.
“As challenging as that is, we’re being well-fed, we’re being looked after, we’re all healthy individuals. With the challenges that these kids fight, with no appetite being physically drained and their bodies are going through a lot more.”
Children affected by cancer sometimes can share time with the riders group along the way by riding with them or meeting them at scheduled stops.
“It gives them the opportunity to share a little bit of their story if they want, and for us to come alongside and support that — because that’s why we ride,” she said. “We ride to raise awareness for pediatric cancer and raise funds for these guys to help them on their journey.”
“We are all in it for the same cause. There is no winning or losing. It’s a team effort. We just say, ‘we’re doing this for you, we are fighting with you and riding for you.”
The 2021 route with scheduled stops will be:
Fri. Sept. 17: Prince George to Vanderhoof
Sat. Sept. 18: Vanderhoof to Fort St James and Fraser Lake
Sun. Sept. 19: Fraser Lake to Burns Lake
Mon. Sept. 20: Burns Lake to Houston and Smithers
Tuesday, Sept. 21: Smithers to Moricetown and New Hazelton
Wed. Sept. 22: New Hazelton to Gitwangak and Terrace
Thurs. Sept. 23: Terrace to Prince Rupert
K-J Millar | Journalist
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