A former Fort Frances resident is looking to her hometown for support as she sets out on a 893-km bike ride in British Columbia to raise money in the fight against cancer.
“We’re riding from Prince George to Prince Rupert in six days,” noted Rachel Geense. 24, who is participating in the “Cops for Cancer” bike ride called the “Tour de North” that will take place Sept. 10-16.
“There’s 24 police officers, all RCMP, from all over the north district here, and we’ll ride 893 km in six days,” she added.
Raised in Fort Frances, Geense has been posted to Dawson Creek, B.C. for the past two years, where she’s just become a Level 1 constable with the RCMP.
“I haven’t had a bike since I was 12,” she laughed about taking on the “Tour de North” challenge. “But I’ve been practising hard for this.
“They’ve loaned us a bike out of a bike shop in Prince George, and we’ve all been riding and practising.”
Geense has set a personal goal of raising $5,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The raised funds will go specifically to help send kids with cancer and their families to a camp in the Lower Mainland of B.C. called “Camp Good Times.”
“[The camp] allows kids to hang out with other kids and be ‘normal’ because they’re not ‘the sick kid’ for [the time],” she explained.
“And then the parents, it allows them to network—because a lot of these kids are terminal by the time they’re being sent there—and it allows their parents to network and to not go through this alone, to realize someone else is fighting the same thing that they’re fighting.”
Geense said it costs $1,500 to send a child to the camp, and $5,000 to send a family, hence her goal of $5,000.
Each participant must raise a minimum of $2,000.
Geense already has done “a ton of fundraising,” including a barbecue last week and a dunk tank with her fellow police officers this week. But many of the people she normally would ask to help her out with the cause still are back in her hometown of Fort Frances.
For Geense, it was district resident Shirley Glueheisen (or “Mrs. G,” as she calls her) that’s the inspiration behind taking on this challenge.
Growing up, “Mrs. G” was like an “extra parent” to her, Geense noted.
And while the general statement is that “cancer affects everybody,” Geense said this didn’t hit home with her until her parents phoned her up one day and told her that Mrs. G” had been diagnosed with cancer.
“That’s when it became personal,” she remarked, noting that Mrs. G’s daughter and mother also have battled cancer.
As well, a fellow officer who also will be participating in the “Tour de North” lost his seven-year-old to a brain tumour last year.
“So I jumped in and said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go for a bike ride. I’ll do it, I’ll do it,’” she recalled.
“I jumped in with my emotions instead of my head,” she laughed. “And I’m paying for it now and I’m very, very sore.”
Geense said the Dawson Creek area where she lives and has been training is like Alberta: very flat.
“But the area that we’re going to be biking, we’re coming through mountains and you name it.,” she said about the route they’ll be taking along the northwest side of B.C.
“I was looking forward to seeing the scenery because I’ve never been out there,” she noted.
“I’ve been posted at Dawson Creek and I haven’t seen much of B.C. except for it.
“But then I was told by the rider who did it last year that, ‘Yeah, you don’t see much but the front tire of the person in front of you. You are so tired and you are pushing so hard, you’re just focusing on that tire in front of you.’”
For those wanting to help out Geense, donation forms can be found at the front desk of the Fort Frances Times and at Cousineau Real Estate.
Donations also can be made online by going to the Canadian Cancer Society’s website at www.cancer.ca and then clicking on “British Columbia & Yukon,” “How You Can Help,” “Fundraising Events,” “Cops for Cancer,” “Tour de North,” and “Support a Rider,” and then entering Geense’s name in the search field.