Courtenay Rotarian and Tour de Rock cyclist Rick Gaiga accepts a $2,500 cheque from Rotary President Robert Buckley. The Tour de Rock raises money for children with cancer.
Rick Gaiga is faced with a long journey, and gave a presentation to our Club on his upcoming participation in the annual Tour de Rock, a cycling tour of Vancouver Island that last year raised $1.8 million to help children with cancer.

After Gaiga finished his remarks with a slideshow of his team's training and promotional sessions, he was presented with a $2,500 cheque on behalf of the Club.

Gaiga is the North Island team captain for the tour, which extends from Port Alice to Victoria; a 15-day trip which covers 1,100 kilometres. An auxiliary constable for the Comox Valley RCMP, he got involved with the Tour de Rock after seeing a friend struggle and ultimately succumb to cancer.

Gaiga, who is the manager of Thrifty Foods in Courtenay, was inspired by Christine Buijs, a co-worker who died from brain cancer this year. Before she died, however, Buijs raised $30,000 for Cops for Cancer by selling "Necklaces of Hope" out of Thrifty Foods.

"She was truly committed to raising funds so that children and families would not have to suffer," said Gaiga.

"That's what inspired me to take a spot in the 2010 Tour de Rock."

"I look forward to continuing her journey in this legacy."

In order to cover the approximately 80 kilometres a day needed to finish the tour and make the stops on time, Gaiga and his teammates have been training continuously to brace themselves for the trip.

So far they have completed a bike ride up Mt. Washington as well as a 150-kilometre trip from Victoria to Jordan River, Gaiga estimates the riders cover about 60 kilometres a day.

As well as supporting cancer research, the money raised from the cycling trip will sponsor children at Camp Goodtimes, a place where kids fighting cancer can kick back and have fun.