Cops for Kids riders arrived in Cranbrook on Wednesday, Sept. 14, half way through their trek, and made a stop at Tamarack Centre where they were greeted and cheered on by families.
The Tamarack Centre presented a cheque for $11,276 to the Cops for Kids ride team and support crew.
Funds were raised back in August through the Party in the Parking lot and Jail and Bail event, which is an annual fundraiser for families with children in medical need.
Perth Haberman and her daughter Brielle are one such family. They were at Wednesday’s event to share their story and thank the riders.
“She was born premature, so we were flown to Kelowna and we were there for six weeks. I was pretty much by myself, so Cops for Kids ended up paying for the hotel, all my groceries, and all my taxi rides to and from the hospital every morning because I had no vehicle,” Haberman said. “When Brie was only six weeks old, we were released from Kelowna and Cops for Kids flew us home. It has been unreal.”
Haberman explained that daughter Brielle has epilepsy, and Cops for Kids has also helped to pay for some of the hospital trips that have ensued.
“We’ve had a lot of support from [Cops for Kids] over the years and we’ve been very loved,” said Haberman. “Every year for her birthday, she saves all of her birthday money and donates 50 per cent.”
Brielle is an ambassador for Cops for Kids this year, and has been in the past as well.
Despite Wednesday’s rainy weather, and a few smoky rides prior to, riders were in great spirits.
The ride spans 10 days, taking the team from Kelowna through the South Okanagan, through the Kootenays to Cranbrook, and back through Kamloops and Vernon to Kelowna. There are two gruelling mountain passes along the way.
Riders train in advance for the event, and must raise a minimum of $2,500 in order to be selected for the team.
Locally, Lisa Barnes of Max’s Place was one of the riders, while Kelly Hunter of the BC Sheriff’s service was part of the support Crew.
The Townsman spoke with rider Gail Harrison, who has been a member of the Cops for Kids ride team since 2006. She also manages and looks after grants with four other volunteers.
“It’s 100 per cent volunteer-run, we run it out of our basement, and this year we’re already over 230 grants,” Harrison said. “With COVID kind of closing its doors a little bit, people are catching up with medical facilities, appointments, and we’re dealing a lot with mental health issues right now, too.
Harrison is heavily involved with the BC Children’s Hospital, Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
“The amount of children that are heading down there because of mental health issues is scary right now, actually,” Harrison said.
So being able to help children and families, any way they can, is precisely why they do what they do, she adds.
“It’s really heartwarming. We’ve done just about anything and everything you can think about to help these children,” Harrison said. “We form long-lasting relationships with these families and Brie is a perfect example.”
Since it’s inception, Cops for Kids has raised over $6 million for families in the southeast district of B.C., Cpl. Tania Finn with the Vernon RCMP explained on Wednesday. Finn is part of the Cops for Kids support crew.
“In the beginning, all riders were strictly police officers, hence the name, and over the last few years we’ve added in others, we have two members from the Sheriff’s service, we have a couple corrections officers riding with us as well, and a couple of community members,” Finn said. “It’s been a fantastic voyage and the RCMP is hugely involved. We have retired members and serving members that are on the board of directors. It’s a cause that we’ve happily supported over the past 20 years.”