Sherry Pattie's nephew Ryan Dillabough never had the chance to spin his wheels with the Cops For Cancer.
He died at age 22 of bone cancer.
Inspired by Dillabough's seven-year fight with the disease, Pattie decided she had to do something in return and signed up as a community rider in the Cops for Cancer Tour de North ride from Prince George to Prince Rupert.
The Tour is expected to raise $260,000 to fund childhood cancer research and the operational costs of Camp Goodtimes, a summer resort on Loon Lake near Maple Ridge, which provides a free holiday for young children, teens and families affected by cancer.
"Ryan was such an incredible young man, his motto was strength and courage and he lived by that," said Pattie.
"Unfortunately, he never got to go to Camp Goodtimes. He died two days after his 22nd birthday. He was so dear to my heart and everyone in our family feels the same."
The seven-day ride starts Sept. 14. Using a bike supplied to her from Cops For Cancer, Pattie has more than 2,200 training kilometres already behind her. Her husband works as a millwright at Isle Pierre sawmill and they've been overnighting the past couple weeks in a trailer parked at Bednesti Lake, 50 km away from her job at the downtown RCMP detachment on Brunswick Street.
If she stays in town, it's a 20 km one-way jaunt from her house in the Hart to work.
"I hadn't ridden a bike for a lot of years, until April," said Pattie, 52, a city employee who works as the RCMP's records supervisor. "I had been thinking about it for a few years and decided this was the year I would do it and was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the two community riders.
"I'm a little nervous about it, but I'm also excited, because I'm doing it for all the right reasons. It means a lot to me. [The money raised] couldn't go to better places and having witnessed that through my nephew, there's no reason not to do it."
In July, Pattie accompanied Erin Reynolds of the Canadian Cancer Society on a visit to Camp Goodtimes and was in awe of the kids and their siblings having the time of their lives, surrounded by other kids whose bald heads and surgical scars revealed the physical effects of living with cancer.
She met Matt Webb, a 20-year-old childhood cancer survivor who has been to Camp Goodtimes 15 times. For the second year, Webb is part of the 10,000-km Tour de Rock on Vancouver Island from Sept. 22-Oct. 5.
"It was incredible to see the camaraderie that is there still when he ran into people he went to Camp Goodtimes with -- these kids form friendships that last years," said Pattie. "Kids go there and learn to be comfortable with themselves. Scars are just scars and the self-esteem those kids build from that camp in just incredible. The maturity that comes out of these kids with cancer just blows me away."
As a community rider, Pattie was required to raise at least $6,000 for the cause. She's already raised $6,300, with one month to go before the tour leaves. Pattie latched on to the idea of running the concession for the College Heights Community Association at the slo-pitch park and enrolled in the FoodSafe course to provide her a license to feed hungry ball players this summer. With kitchen help from her granddaughters, that venture has raised $4,000. She also teamed up with Prince George RCMP officers and fellow Tour riders Danielle Brissard and Coralie Wilkinson to serve 425 pancake breakfasts in three hours during the PGX.
Pattie will raise another $300 in donations when she gets an extreme haircut in the Canadian Cancer Society's Big Honkin' Head Shave event on Sept. 13.