‘Thinking of Rick’: Tour de Rock riders honour slain Mountie as fundraiser begins

'Thinking of Rick': Tour de Rock riders honour slain Mountie as fundraiser begins
Tour de Rock riders prepare to start their journey on Sept. 23, 2023.

There was a dark cloud hovering over Saturday’s departing ceremony of the Tour de Rock fundraiser, after learning about the death of RCMP Ridge Meadows member Const. Frederick (Rick) O’Brien, who was killed in the line of duty.

Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed in a statement that O’Brien, along with two other officers, were executing a search warrant in Coquitlam, B.C., when they engaged in an altercation with a man which resulted in multiple officers being injured, including Const. O’Brien being fatally shot.

Event host and former Victoria police officer Andy Dunsten made sure that the ceremony started with a reflection on what it takes to be an officer of the law.

“In the back of your mind there is the fact that every day you go to work could be your last day, and for one of our brothers, that was yesterday,” said Dunsten.

Nineteen law enforcement and emergency services personnel, along with media members, make up this year’s Tour de Rock team. Many officers, like Saanich Police officer Shauna Bainberdge, are starting their journey across the Island with a heavy heart.

“We all put on our uniforms every day expecting we are going to come home, and unfortunately he is not coming home to his family,” she said. “We can process this information together and ride while we are thinking of Rick.”

The Tour de Rock team announced they’ll be wearing blue ribbons, in honour of O’Brien, as they set out to raise more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research. Canadian Cancer Society senior manager Ninon Daubigeon is proud of all the work everyone did to make this day happen.

“It’s a lot of dedicated, committed people helping children and families living with cancer,” said Daubigeon. “Although we’ve seen so much, so much progress over the last couple decades, survival rates have gone from 70 percent to now the mid 80s, and we still need to do more.”

While hearts are heavy to start the ride, the team knows it has the support of the Island as they depart on their two week journey across the Island.

To date, Cops for Cancer has raised just under $470,000 dollars with the end goal of raising $1 million dollars by the end of the ride.

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