In his day job, Glen Kirkland deals with border issues in the port city of Prince Rupert. But nothing in his training to be a Border Services Officer prepared him to deal with swarms of angry bees as he trained this summer for the Cops for Cancer bicycle ride.
“I found out later that some bees can fly up to 35 km per hour. They’re fast!” he told West Coast Now. “Nobody else I know in the ride had a bee encounter.”
But it was worth it, he said, because like most riders in Cops for Cancer, Kirkland has family and friends who have gone through cancer: “I’ve lost quite a few people from it.”
Kirkland is on the four-member Prince Rupert Rain Riders team, which aims to cycle 850 kilometres in the Canadian Cancer Society “Tour de North” route to raise money for research and programs for children with cancer. The event runs September 14-20.
He told West Coast Now he knew training for the ride, held annually by teams of first responders on several routes throughout Canada, would be rigorous. Riding long distances on remote roads, “I always expected to come across a bear or something.”
“Instead, twice in a row, I got swarmed by 8-10 bees, landing on me then following me as I pedalled uphill as fast as I could.” Fortunately–because he suspects he’s allergic to bee stings–none of the bees stung him.
Cops for Cancer started 25 years ago, and its cycling tours and other events, held throughout Canada, have raised nearly $48 million to date “to fund life-saving pediatric cancer research and support children with cancer and their families,” according to the Canadian Cancer Society website.
Kirkland was inspired to ride after a talk at his high school by several riders with Cops for Cancer on the coastal route. Later, when he joined the Canada Border Services Agency, “I met a lot of good officers involved in Cops for Cancer, supporting the Canadian Cancer Society.”
This will be the first ride for everyone on the Prince Rupert team.
Each rider must raise a minimum of $3,000 to take part. Riding alongside Kirkland will be Kelsey Sonnel from Border Patrol, and officers Nathan Hokazono and Jacque van Wyngaart from the RCMP. (Click the links for each rider’s profile and fund-raising page.)
On Sept. 14 they will meet other riders from throughout Northern B.C., and start their seven-day ride in Dawson Creek. Their route will take them through the Rockies, to Prince George, and finishing in Williams Lake.
Kirkland decided to support research for children, specifically, because during childhood he experienced his brother endure treatments that were designed for adults, for a rare non-cancer disease.
The B.C. Children’s Hospital was “amazing,” he recalls, “but a lot of the treatments are geared more toward adults and can have long-term effects on children.”
The Cancer Society says Cops for Cancer is one of the largest funders of pediatric cancer research in Canada, and “progress is being made – we’ve seen pediatric cancer survival rates increase from 71% in the 1980s to over 83% today.”