Peterborough police officers on bikes were greeted by hundreds of Westmount Public School students on Monday morning as they arrived to kick off the annual Pedal for Hope campaign,
The team of 15 officers — consisting of members of the Peterborough Police Service, OPP, Durham Regional Police and RCMP — will pedal 1,000 kilometres over the next three weeks raising funds for pediatric cancer research.
Over the last 13 years, the campaign has raised $4.8 million, the bulk coming from fundraising by schools. The 2017 campaign raised more than $352,000. Westmount itself has raised more than $20,000 annually for the past seven years.
“We don’t set a goal but we’d love to hit the $5-million mark — that’s a big goal,” said Peterborough Police Service Staff Sgt. Marc Habgood.
The team will visit 50 schools throughout central Ontario, sharing stories about children battling cancer and inspiring them to fundraise.
At Westmount, Habgood says it’s always an emotional visit as they recall meeting Graham Clarke, a Grade 7 student who died of cancer.
At Monday’s assembly, his father, David Clarke, shaved his head on stage alongside Habgood.
Clarke has his own fundraising page for Pedal for Hope in David’s memory.
Along with cycling daily, the officers along with former NHLer John Druce, put on a number of skits and held yogurt-eating contests and encouraged students to shave their heads or cut their ponytails to support the campaign.
Druce’s daughter Courtney died in April 2016 after losing her fifth battle with cancer.
“Three students — two in Durham, one in Peterborough — have died since we finished riding last season,” said Habgood. “So it’s easy to get back on the bikes and support those families.”
This year’s tour runs until May 11. The team also made stops at St. Catherine Catholic Elementary and Kawartha Heights Public School on Monday.
For a full list of tour stops, visit the Pedal for Hope website.