She had just been accepted into the Cops for Cancer cycling tour when her mother was diagnosed with lymphoma.
In the last seven months, West Vancouver Police Department Const. Nicole Hartwig has balanced two heavy burdens in anticipation of the annual event.
“I’ve been between working four days in West Vancouver and then going to Victoria to help take care of my mom,” she says.
In the midst of her police duties and familial responsibilities, Hartwig also needed to get acquainted with a road bike.
“Training was pretty hard. The first time I got on a road bike was in February when I got accepted for Cops for Cancer, so it’s been quite an uphill climb,” she says. “I guess you could say I’m a cyclist now or I will be after the nine days.”
The gruelling tour takes riders through Coquitlam, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Whistler, Pemberton, the North Shore, Burnaby, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Richmond and finally back to Vancouver.
The event also includes a barbecue lunch at the North Vancouver civic plaza from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 23.
Speaking on the phone just 10 minutes before heading for the highway, Hartwig says her mother motivates her to keep pedalling.
“I always text my mom, tell her I’m going to go on a ride, but I just know in my heart that I’m riding for my mom and I’m also riding for my cousin who passed away from cancer when he was 20,” she says.
Riders have to raise $6,000 prior to strapping on their helmets. Hartwig has comfortably surpassed that mark, bringing in $17,000 so far, largely due to family support.
“My mom was a huge help. She had this toonie charge; every time someone walked in her backdoor they had to give $2 or they had to leave.”
She also raised $4,400 through a yard sale and accepted a $2,500 donation from her father.
“If you have something you truly believe in and you’re willing to ask for money, people are always willing to help,” she says.
As the event begins, Hartwig’s mother, Linda, is feeling better.
“She just hit remission a few weeks ago,” Hartwig reports. “She’s growing her hair back which she loves.”
West Vancouver Const. Griffin Gillan and North Vancouver RCMP Const. Marie-Eve Beaupré are also representing the North Shore in the Cops for Cancer tour.
The tour raises funds for pediatric research and clinical trials through the Canadian Cancer Society.
Funds also go to Camp Goodtimes, a free Maple Ridge summer camp for children affected by cancer.
Each year, approximately 850 Canadian children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer.
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