A total of 20 Mounties departed from the parking lot of Kelowna’s Sandman Hotel Friday morning, kicking off the 21st annual Cops for Kids fundraising campaign.
The 10-day trek will see cyclists ride 1,000 km, with the first day being a 138 km ride to Osoyoos. On Saturday, the group will travel over the Anarchist summit outside Osoyoos, taking them to Grand Forks.
The rest of the ride will see cyclists travel over the Paulson Summit to Castlegar, then Nelson, Creston and Cranbrook before travelling back through Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Vernon and back to Kelowna Sept. 19.
“It’s not an easy journey. Today is the longest at 138-ish km,” said Courtney King, the event coordinator for Cops for Kids.
“A mountain pass tomorrow, a mountain pass Sunday, so they’ve got a few hard days ahead of them.”
First-time participant Ryan Danilowich, a Kelowna RCMP officer, said that he’s been meaning to ride in the campaign for several years.
“We were actually down at the children’s hospital seven years ago with our kids,” said Danilowich. “It’s been one of those things I’ve wanted to do for a while and now’s the time.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s campaign saw cyclists ride the 1,000 km journey from home, with six riders covering the trip each day. With participants able to actually ride the route this year, King said that morale is high amongst group members.
“They are so happy to be back together. They’re very excited,” she said. “We didn’t know that we were going to be able to do this, so the fact that we’re doing it and doing it together — they are thrilled.”
Each rider was required to raise a minimum of $2,500 to be on the team, with donations being collected along the way as well. Funds raised will be distributed directly to families who applied to the campaign and outlined their specific needs.
“Normally, when we arrive into a community, we invite the children who benefit from our fundraising efforts, mayors, RCMP leadership, and the community to come out and welcome the team,” said King.
“We’re not doing that this year, so the riders are basically travelling in their own little bubble, but they’re back together, which is really an important part.”