The Cops for Kids riders rode their way through Castlegar on Monday. The group stayed here Sunday night and then was hosted for a pancake breakfast at the Royal Canadian Legion on Monday morning.
After breakfast, the 19 riders took off over Robson Bridge and rode up to Nelson.
“It’s been going really well,” said Cst. Dirk Finkensiep, who worked for the Castlegar RCMP detachment from 2003 to 2010 and is currently in Fort St. John. “We’ve probably got the strongest team we’ve had in years.”
The Cops for Kids ride started in Kelowna on Sept. 16 and will take the team through the Okanagan and Kootenays on a gruelling nine day trip. The event raises awareness and funds to assist children in need in the Southern Interior region of B.C.
“It’s such a great cause. Because it’s for children in any type of medical or physical or emotional distress. It doesn’t concentrate on one specific thing,” said Finensiep. “At Cops for Kids, we concentrate on any children. We get applications for grants from families and friends of families so we’re able to give back to these families directly in the areas where the money has been raised.”
The money raised in the Okanagan and in the Kootenay all stays in the area, he said. “The most fulfilling thing for the riders is that we get to meet the families. We say hello to them, we have breakfast with them at times. It’s a personal touch that really affects us and makes us want to raise more money.”
The Cops for Kids bike ride team poses for a picture at the Legion in Castlegar
Finkensiep said the biggest challenges for the riders are day two and day three when the team takes to the mountain passes.
“The second day (Friday) is from Osoyoos to Grand Forks up over Anarchist Summit. The third day from Grand Forks to Castlegar over the Paulson,” he said. “Everybody held together really well. Everybody made it. It was magnificent.”
The trip from Castlegar to Nelson is Finkensiep’s favourite.
“It’s probably the most scenic part of the trip as well as the Nelson to Creston,” he said. “Riding along Kootenay River and Kootenay Lake it’s absolutely gorgeous.”
Another highlight for team is the annual fashion show in Cranbrook at the Tamarack Mall.
“That’s been going for seven years,” he said. “All the male riders get to wear fall fashions from the local businesses there.”
For Finkensiep, this year’s ride is his seventh, the first working in Fort St. John. “They’ve been kind enough to let me come down and join the ride even though I’m not living in the area anymore,” he said.
After Cranbrook, the riders are bussed to Golden where they ride to Revelstoke and through the North Okanagan. The trip ends in Kelowna on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Each rider involved must raise $2,000 on their own to participate in the ride. The fundraising efforts, however, go on all year.
“There’s many different venues such as the Regimental Balls, raffles, you name it,” said Finensiep. “This ride is really the culmination to show people what we’re all about.”
The goal for Cop for Kids is $200,000 each year. This year they have helped 130 families in the Southern Interior already including two in Castlegar.
The money raised has gone toward new equipment such as wheelchairs and iPads as well as helping with travel costs for families visiting children when they are at hospitals in Vancouver or Calgary.
Finensiep said that although the ride is difficult at times, particularly going up the mountains, it’s definitely well worth it.
“Going up the hills is the hardest part. It takes some training for your rear end so that you can sit in the saddle for five to eight hours a day for nine days in a row,” he said. “It’s a bit of a challenge, but it’s nothing compared to what the kids go through. We can see the end of our challenge, the end of the hill climb. At the end of the day we get a nice hotel and hot tub. These children we try to help – they potentially have a life long struggle. That’s our motivation.”
Anyone who wishes to donate to this great cause please go to www.copsforkids.org.