Pedal for Hope

Photo of a member of the Pedal for Hope team giving a student a high-five.

Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

Pedal for Hope began in 2004 as the idea of Detective John Townsend who wanted to find an inspiring way to fundraise for childhood cancer research.  How to have a presence? Make an impact?

Every spring since, John and a team of officers from the Peterborough Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, along with former NHLer John Druce, trade their uniforms for exercise gear and a bike.  They pedal 1,000 kilometres over three weeks, travelling to 50 schools in Central Ontario, telling kids about other kids who are just like them but who are  living with cancer.  They have raised over $2.3 million in ten years.

“Reaching the first $1 million mark was a huge triumph for us. But having a child who was fighting cancer tell me ‘I’m free and clear’ is the biggest triumph of all” says John.

Each officer on the Team dedicates their ride to a child battling cancer.  Some ride for a child in memoriam.

The goal for 2014 was $400,000. The children at participating schools contributed to fundraising efforts through a variety of events such as bake sales, pizza days and penny drives. Some, with parental permission of course, shaved their heads or cut off their pony tails, donating their hair for wigs for kids with cancer.

Monies raised by Pedal for Hope are going directly to pediatric cancer research.  In 2012, a $200,000 Innovation Grant funded through the Canadian Cancer Society from proceeds from Pedal for Hope was awarded to Dr Don Mabbott at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Ontario and associate professor at the University of Toronto.  Dr. Mabbott is studying the relationship between exercise and brain structure and function in childhood cancer survivors.

In 2014, Dr. Lillian Sung, also of SickKids, received $1 million from Pedal for Hope proceeds to develop an App for children so that they can identify and voice symptoms they are experiencing as a result of their cancer.

A special thank you to the sponsors who partner with our Pedal for Hope Team: Shimano, Subway, Canadian Tire and the Canadian Cancer Society.


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In 2005, Constable John Townsend the Peterborough chapter of Cops for Cancer took on a new identity.  The Pedal for Hope Cycling Team was introduced and local children, fighting cancer, along with their families, had a new support team behind them! Local police officers from Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service, Peterborough County O.P.P. and R.C.M.P., a retired N.H.L. hockey player and a great crew of support personnel have been dedicating time to this worthy cause. Starting in late April, the Pedal for Hope team cycles approximately 1,000 kilometers over a three week period, visiting local schools delivering a message about kids living with cancer.  The officers use their own personal time off as well as annual holidays to participate in this phenomenal annual event.

A presentation in each school takes on a serious side about how important it is to support pediatric cancer research. A team video is shown, a few heads are shaved to support the cause, and a few ponytails cut and then turn on the fun. Students are involved in ice cream eating contests against their favourite police officer, showing the lighter side of police officers in their community.

Our tour takes us through 48 awesome schools, starting at Westmount Public School and finishing at North Cavan. We visit schools in Peterborough, Lakefield, Bridgenorth, Little Britain, Cameron, Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, Coboconk, Minden, Haliburton, Wilberforce, Apsley, Buckhorn, Douro, Warsaw, Norwood, Havelock, Hastings, Campbellford, Warkworth, Brighton, Colbourne, Cobourg, Port Hope, Bowmanville, Courtice, Newcastle, Welcome, Millbrook, and Cavan.

In 10 years, The Pedal for Hope Team has raised over 2 million dollars for pediatric Cancer research.

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