Blue Line

Ten years of pedalling for a cure

March 13, 2014  By John Townsend

588 words – MR

Ten years of pedalling for a cure

by John Townsend

What do you get when you combine officers from the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police, Peterborough County OPP and RCMP with a NHLPA member? !


Developed from this team put a twist on an aging campaign and energized this community involved fundraising campaign.

The idea was designed on a napkin by Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Det./Cst. John Townsend. The need for change was recognized and a cycling tour involving local students was welcomed.

Officially formed in Peterborough in 2005, members shed their uniforms for three weeks each spring, riding through snow, hail and freezing rain but usually finishing in the warm sun.

With the help of major sponsors such as Shimano Canada and Subway, the team pedals over a thousand kilometres to visit schools around central Ontario. At each stop, students are engaged in a variety of activities hosted by the officers, including head shaves, ponytail cuts, ice cream eating contests and dancing.

The noise level in the gym explodes when the officers arrive and the student enthusiasm is contagious. Although the officers show their fun and approachable side, there is always an education component: from using sun sense and anti-bullying messages to healthy eating and physical activity. The officers have a captive audience and use this opportunity to show that police really do care.

After the three week tour the team hosts a wrap up event, sharing the final kilometer of the ride with child survivors and their families. Each child has a partner officer (affectionately known as “Special Friends”) and is given their own bike to ride.

The team has had five special friends lose their battle with cancer during the first nine years of the campaign. Their names are engraved on each officer’s bike, providing an everyday reminder of the reason they ride; so no parent has to hear the words, “Your child has cancer”.

The Peterborough Team was contacted by police officers in Belleville in 2010. They came out to view the tour. Impressed with what they saw, expanded to the Quinte area and the officers kicked off our second team in 2011.

The Belleville team has had three successful years and continues to grow, working in partnership with child survivors and their families, the community and the Canadian Cancer Society.

has raised $2.3 million dollars for pediatric cancer research since 2005. The team funded an “Innovation Grant” through the Canadian Cancer Society in 2012, giving $200,000 to fund the research of Dr. Donald Mabbott, a senior associate scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Mabbott is studying the impact of exercise on children treated with radiation and is looking for evidence that increasing physical activity in brain tumor survivors can stimulate the growth of new brain cells. If successful, the research findings will be published in medical journals worldwide and will be named after the team!

The Peterborough office of the Canadian Cancer Society is incredibly proud of the team. Described as local heroes in this community, they are passionate and dedicated to funding life-saving research for children diagnosed with cancer and also enhancing the quality of life of children and their families who are living with the disease.

really is changing cancer forever.


John Townsend is founder and coordinator of Contact him at or 705 876-1122 x360 for more information.

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