By Lisa Harrison
Since 1994, the Winnipeg Police Service’s Cops for Kids bicycle relay team has been burning up the miles in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation Manitoba & Nunavut Chapter. Every two years, this dedicated group of athletic officers sets out from Winnipeg, Manitoba on a new cycling adventure. Previous destinations include Halifax, Vancouver, Mexico, San Diego, San Francisco and New York City.
While the announcement of their May 2011 Quest for the Key tour to Key West, Florida is exciting news, there is another reason to cheer for the participants of this grueling, 4,200 km challenge. For the first time in the history of the Cops for Kids bicycle relay tour, an all-female team will be hitting the highway alongside their male counterparts.
Const. Wendy Basic, Patrol Sgt. Kelly McCartney and Const. Maria Koniuck, along with Petra Becker, administrative assistant to W.P.S. Police Chief Keith McCaskill, are thrilled to be a part of this committed cycling team.
“The idea of having an all-female team was inspiring to us,” says Patrol Sgt. McCartney, who was first approached about the idea by a longstanding Cops for Kids member while on the W.P.S. bicycle patrol unit with Const. Basic and Const. Koniuk. “We want to prove that we are just as capable of keeping up to the rigorous time schedule as any of the male teams.”
While all four women cycled with Cops for Kids in 2009, this is the first time they will be participating in a tour of this magnitude. The last fundraiser—a nine-day, 5,000 km relay—took place on home ground, around Winnipeg on the Perimeter Highway. “I’m nervous and excited,” says Const. Basic, adding that she’s never been away from her husband and kids for more than four days.
Missing family will be one of the many difficulties that the ladies face as they set off with four other teams of four and cycle non-stop, rain or shine, 24 hours a day with the goal of completing this taxing long-distance tour within seven days.
“So far, training has been the biggest challenge. Our winter climate will have us cycling indoors and nothing quite compares to cycling out on the road,” says Const. Koniuck. “We also only have basic bike repair skills so if something serious happens to our bikes, I’m not sure how we’ll fix the problem while we’re out on the road.”
Despite these concerns, all four women are confident that their competitive spirit, great camaraderie, and huge desire to help raise money—and grant the wishes of some very courageous children in their community—will lead to a successful tour.
“The cause that we are riding for will keep us going,” says Becker. “Our efforts are assisting sick children and their families. What could be a better motivator?”
To make a pledge to this dedicated team or to learn more about Cops for Kids, please visit www.wpscopsforkids.ca. If you would like further information about The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, please visit www.childrenswish.ca.
Lisa Harrison is the Fundraising Coordinator for the Children’s Wish Foundation Manitoba & Nunavut Chapter. The Children’s Wish Foundation grants the most heartfelt wishes of children ages 3-17 coping with high risk, life-threatening illnesses. Lisa is excited to be working with the Cops for Kids in preparation of their 9th bi-annual bicycle relay tour. To date, over $350,000 has been raised for the Children’s Wish Foundation through the team’s efforts.