My name is Sgt. Jennifer Collins and I work at the Prince George North District Office in the Respectful Workplace Program. I have always been a supporter for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, Run for a Cure and in recent years, Cops for Cancer. In 2012 I rode for my first time in the Cops for Cancer Tour de North with my dad Bob Killbery who was, at the time, the Inspector in Charge at the Prince Rupert RCMP Detachment. We both enjoyed the experience, and believed in the cause so much that we rode from Prince George to Prince Rupert again in 2014 and 2016. Like most people, I know people with cancer- some that had survived and some that had not. As we rode into Kitimat in September 2014, I received a phone call from a friend back in Quesnel, my first posting, that my friend Agnes had just died from her cancer. We all knew it was happening, but I had hoped that I would make it back to Quesnel to see her before she was gone. My mom has had cancer, my grandparents, some of my best friends too. Although I have watched family members go through cancer treatment and care, I have not had to personally deal with a child with cancer and I had very little experience with knowing children with cancer. Then I met Jordan.
I was at Cowpaccino's, a popular coffee shop in Prince Rupert on Friday August 26th, 2016 with a good friend of mine from Lax Kw'alaams for coffee. As we were sitting there, catching up, a family of 5 came in. Dad was calling to his kids to figure out what they wanted. Mom went and sat at the table next to us with a very little baby. As Dad was ordering for his two elementary aged kids, the boy, Jordan, came up to us with an ice cream pail of little rock crabs and sea shells. He was excited to show off his find to anyone that was willing to listen. My friend and I were excited to see his catch and thanked him for showing us, as he was off again to see his big sister. Dad then came over, thanked us for our interest in his son's treasures and introduced himself. Scotty Cartwright and his family came to Prince Rupert from Alberta to see the ocean because Jordan, age 7, has an aggressive form of leukemia and one of the things he really wanted to do was see an orca and collect some sea shells.
We spent the next half an hour talking with the Cartwright family about all that they have been going through- a house fire last year, then the diagnosis of their son who was only 6 years old at the time. Through this conversation, I told Scotty and his wife Robyn that I was riding from Prince George to Prince Rupert in September to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society for kids going through treatment, and financial support for their families. Scotty told me that this trip was Jordan's dream, and that the good will of people supporting them in every town is what made it happen. They were blown away by the hospitality and friendliness of the people of Prince Rupert. They have been fundraising too, and as a result were able to take the family on this road trip that also included a sea plane tour and a trip out on the big yellow Adventure Tours boat. Both of those were once in a life time highlights for them. As Scotty started to break down, he asked me if I would listen to something. He then played me a song that Jordan had written with his music therapist back in Alberta. The song is an emotional roller coaster of sweet lyrics that Jordan wrote, describing his love for his family and all the things in life that he is looking to experience.
30 minutes of a chance encounter with a family of strangers in a little café in Prince Rupert. That is what made me realize why I ride. I have been involved in supporting this cause for many years, and it was this moment on this date that it clicked for me. A family of strangers that chose the chance to share an intimate song about their life, and the hope that they have for their son and family, with us on that day. Everyone has a reason why they support the cause, and I have found mine. This is why I ride my bike in the pouring rain after a long day at work, or for 6 hours on a Sunday morning with a head wind. Or on a long hill up Foothills out to Ness Lake. This year when I start riding on September 14th, from Prince George with the 35 other Tour riders, I will fully appreciate why I ride. No one chooses to get cancer but we can all choose to help find a cure. I have a 10 year old daughter who thankfully, is healthy. In 2014 she donated 9 inches of her hair for wigs for kids through the Canadian Cancer society, and in 2015 designed and sold Christmas Cards at the Kaien Island Craft Fair to support the Canadian Cancer Society. She drew a great picture and the message said "the best gift of all is helping others". She raised $750 in the sale of the cards. The picture, message and idea came from her because she 'gets it'.
The Cops for Cancer Tour de North will depart from Prince George on September 14th, 2018 and arrive in Prince Rupert on September 20th. Every bit that someone can do to support the Cops for Cancer Tour de North helps with paediatric cancer research and treatment.
Thank you for your support.