My name is Jennifer Collins and I work at the Prince Rupert RCMP Detachment. In mid-September 2012 I rode for my first time in the Cops for Cancer Tour de North with my dad Bob Killbery from Prince George to Prince Rupert over a period of seven days. It was such an amazing experience of generosity and hope that in 2014 we rode again. Like many, I know people with cancer — some that have survived and some that had not. As we rode into Kitimat in 2014, I received word that a good friend of mine had died of cancer. We all knew it was happening, but I had hoped I would make it back to see her before she was gone.
This year I am riding for my third time with my dad and Michal Sluka from Royal LePage. Michal is riding for his first time and his decision to participate was based on the loss of his grandfather and his mom’s diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She went through a series of chemotherapies and will continue to do so for the next two years.
So why do I ride? Every year that I do this ride I think about what it means to me. I am lucky enough to have a healthy little girl and family. Although I have watched family members go through cancer treatment, I have not known a child with cancer. That is, until I met Jordan.
I was at Cowpuccino’s recently with a friend. As we were sitting there, a family of five came in. Dad called out to his kids trying to figure out what they wanted and Mom sat at the table next to us with the baby. As Dad was ordering for his two elementary aged kids, the boy came up to us with a pail of little rock crabs and seashells, excited to show off his find to anyone that was willing to listen.
My friend and I thanked him for showing us his catch, then he was off again to see his big sister. That is when Dad came over, thanked us for being interested and introduced himself as Scotty. The family had come to Prince Rupert from Alberta to see the ocean because their son, Jordan, age seven, has aggressive leukemia and something he wanted to do was see a killer whale and collect seashells.
We spent the next half an hour talking with the family about what they have been dealing with and through this conversation I told them I was riding from Prince George to Prince Rupert with Cops for Cancer raise money for kids with cancer. Scotty told me that the trip to the ocean was Jordan’s dream, and that the goodwill of people supporting them in every town along the way was what made it happen. They were blown away by the kindness of the people of Prince Rupert. As Scotty started to break down, he asked me to listen to something. He played me a song that Jordan had written with his music therapist; a song of sweet lyrics by Jordan describing his love for his family and all the things in life that he is looking forward to experiencing.
Thirty minutes of a chance encounter with a family of strangers in a little café; that is what made me realize why I ride.
I have been involved in supporting this cause for many years, and it was this moment on this date that it clicked for me.
A chance meeting with a family of strangers, who shared an intimate song about their life, and the hope that they have for their son and family, with me on that day.
Everyone has a reason why they support the cause and I have found mine. This is why I ride my bike in the pouring rain after a long day at work, or for six hours along the Skeena fighting a head wind.
This year, on Sept. 16, when I start the ride with the 25 other tour cyclists, I will fully appreciate the reason. No one chooses to get cancer but we can all choose to help find a cure. The Cops for Cancer Tour de North will arrive in Prince Rupert on Sept. 22 at approximately 5 p.m. There will be a welcome back reception, courtesy of the Crest Hotel in the BC Room. Come out on that day and support the riders as we return from 860kms on the road in an effort to raise awareness and support.
Donations to Cops for Cancer can be made online at the Canadian Cancer Society website, ‘Tour de North’.
Cpl. Jennifer Collins
Prince Rupert RCMP