When off-duty, RCMP Const. Scott McGillivray can be found cycling — so much so, he himself was struck by a vehicle in May, breaking several ribs and laying him up for a few weeks.
But the Penticton-based officer wouldn’t have missed Friday’s ride into town for anything, as he joined forces with other officers for the kickoff to Cops for Kids, a regional fundraiser to benefit struggling Okanagan families.
“For me, it’s a 10-day ride and a chance to connect with the community,” he said. “It’s good for the RCMP to meet people who are falling through the cracks a little bit. They don’t have a lot of money for different things.
“In our work, you don’t meet people under the best circumstances. But this way, it’s a great way to meet people in a positive light.”
Established in 2001, the Cops for Kids tour raises funds for children in medical, physical or traumatic crisis and the families that struggle to provide for them throughout the service region.
The tour of 25 riders and five support crew members consist of officers and staff of RCMP detachments in the southeast district who started Friday by travelling from Kelowna to Penticton then on to Osoyoos, Grand Forks, Castlegar, Nelson and Creston. Today they will arrive in Cranbrook, before heading to Golden, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Vernon and back to Kelowna. The tour will wrap up on Sunday.
“It’s a long haul, but then you think about what the families are going through every day, it doesn’t seem that long,” McGillivray said.
Gail Harrison, Cops for Kids Foundation president, said the organization has supported a host of families with more than $25,000. The funds have supported children undergoing Lyme disease treatment, provided equipment like wheelchairs and specialized bicycles called trikes and families having to travel to Vancouver for care.
They also try to have fun in communities along the way. Cops for Kids stopped into Giant’s Head Elementary in Summerland Friday to mark the birthday of a little girl who was a recipient of a hot pink wheelchair last year. This year, Harrison said cyclists surprised the girl and her class by bringing in pink cupcakes for all to share.
“It’s not just about the major centres like Kelowna and Penticton, you guys include the little towns along the way and make it special for everyone,” Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino told the crowd gathered at Andrew Sheret Ltd. Friday, as Cops for Kids riders took a break for the day.
Damon Bremner of Andrew Sheret said it’s the second year they’ve hosted the Cops for Kids tour, which he hopes to make a bigger event as time goes on to support the cause.
“We thought we would bring in a little bit of entertainment,” he said, pointing out the three high school kids — Taylor Gram, Gabe Punis and Johnny Chadulow — chosen to perform. “It’s awesome, and we’re happy to be part of it.”
Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton said the fundraiser “makes an immense difference to people.
“I have a saying: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” he told the crowd.
Donations can be made online at www.copsforkids.org, and charitable tax receipts are issued for any donation of $25 or more.