By Gail Paquette
As soon as the students of College Street and Queen Elizabeth Schools in Trenton heard police sirens they began to cheer.
Enthusiasm grew as area police officers rounded the corner riding bikes. They held up signs reading, Hope, Love and I Believe as the officers circled several times giving high fives, waving, smiling and blowing their whistles.
The ‘Pedal for Hope’ tour has caused this reaction in every school the officers have visited since it started Monday. It will continue until Friday when the final leg of the tour will land them in Market Square, Belleville.
The Pedal for Hope team is scheduled to cycle into the square and celebrations will continue till 7 p.m. The public welcome to join them and enjoy a fundraising barbecue, live entertainment, meet cancer survivors and witness more head shaving.
The officers, from Prince Edward, Quinte West, Centre Hastings OPP detachments and Belleville city police, started with a 55-km ride to Picton where they visited three schools. On Tuesday they biked 40 km trip to Trenton. Their journey will continue to Belleville, Tweed and Madoc.
Pedal for Hope started in 2004 by Peterborough area police officers to raise money for pediatric cancer research. This year they will visit 50 schools and travel 1000 km. They have raised $1.5 million since 2004.
“Last year at this time we were approached by Peterborough,” said Belleville Police Constable Jeremy Ashley. “They said ‘You guys should check this out. It’s a lot of fun.’ We went and watched them. It was infectious, the kids were amazing.”
In Trenton, Celebrate Good Times by Cool and the Gang was the cue for the officers to drop their bikes and dance their way into the auditorium.
The children saw a gentler side to the police officers who lead them in song and played games. The message, however was serious, “We can beat Cancer.”
Their slogan ‘We Believe.” was echoed several times by the children.
“The only way this is going to be a success is with you guys. We are going to beat cancer cause no kid should have to live with cancer,” said Madoc OPP Officer Jim Locke to the gym full of students and teachers at both public schools.
Police officers in Canada became involved in raising money for research dollars in 1994 and Cops for Cancer was launched.
“A five-year-old boy in Edmonton was being teased and picked on in school because he was bald. He had lost his hair to cancer,” said Locke. “Edmonton Police Constable Gary Goulet and a few fellow officers shaved their heads and went with Lyle to school. They wanted to show the kids that being bald was cool.”
Since then police officers across Canada have been shaving their heads and over $50 million has been raised.
“When we received the information, we knew right away we wanted to be a part of this. We have a young boy here who is a cancer survivor.” said College Street teacher Muriel Smith Eaton. “Cancer is a word that we are all faced with at least once in our lives.”