Twenty-one riders arrived in Castlegar from Grand Forks on Sept. 8.

Cops for Kids glide into Castlegar

Big-hearted police pedalers travel a thousand kilometre loop for the benefit of kids

One thousand kilometres through south eastern B.C. in 10 days, is a lot for a group of cyclists to cover, especially when considering some of the steep mountain passes that need to be crossed.

Cops for Kids 2013 looked in fine form after having put the summits of Anarchist Mountain, Eholt, and Blueberry Paulson behind them, powering into Castlegar on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Cops for Kids is a major commitment, and the goals of the program are every bit as major. Here’s how the outfit describes what it does, and why, in its own words, retrieved from the Cops for Kids website:

“Cops for Kids are committed to assisting children that are in medical, physical or traumatic crisis. We tirelessly work to raise funds to continue our ongoing support to the children in communities that we serve. Cops for Kids are devoted to helping little hearts…in our communities!

“Cops For Kids has many events throughout the year, however, our signature event is the Cops for Kids Ride. This gruelling ten day ride occurs each year over some very challenging terrain. We are driven by our commitment to the little people that we serve in the Southern Interior Region of British Columbia and are devoted to making a difference in their lives!”

To ride with the Cops for Kids, an officer must fundraise a minimum of $2,000 in pledges in their home community. This is nothing for triflers. The experience is and endurance test, even for support crews who routinely endure 17-hour days. Demanding, for sure, and riders don’t get any kind of break at the conclusion even though, according to coordinator Courtenay King, the ordeal could easily warrant at least a week of recovery time.

The Castlegar reception was a warm, enthusiastic one, much like each of the stops along the Cops for Kids route.

Speaking of which the tour started in Kelowna, headed  south to Osoyoos, east to Castlegar before heading to Nelson, Balfour, Crawford Bay, down to Creston, over to Cranbrook then through Golden, Revelstoke, on to Kamloops, Vernon and back to Kelowna to finish.

There was a sizable crowd at the Safeway parking lot on Sunday with local dignitaries and a horde of well-wishers.

Constable Rob Gardiner, a Castlegar Mountie, acted as MC for the ceremony then later had a personal chat with the Castlegar News.

“This is my second ride,” said the peace officer, “last year was my first.”

Gardiner started preparing for this year’s challenge back in May, trying to ride as much as he could. This year he focussed on hill climbing as opposed to straight distance like he did last year.

“It wasn’t something I had done much of before last year,” said the constable about cycling. “A couple of members here were in the Cops for Kids ride, and were leaving town. I realized how much of a commitment they put in, and how much the community embraced the ride. So I decided to take it on, bought a bike, shorts and equipment I needed.”

The experiences he’s had since, including the time spent with the kids has been “simple amazing.”

Courtney King said one of the riders had raised pledges totaling more that $13,000, a couple over the $5,000 mark and “pretty consistent in the $3,000 to $4,000 level.”

For more information on the program, including how to offer support, get online and visit www.copsforkids.org

Pictured below, Cst. Rob Gardiner (L) and Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff

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