Sergeant Steve Hicks first had the inkling to fundraise through a bike ride in 2004, as a tribute to his father, retired officer Fred 'Flashlight Freddy' Hicks, who battled leukemia for six years before succumbing to the disease.
“My father was always helped me out and coached me when I was growing up… he always said to respect children and love your children because that’s all you have,” said Hicks so, when he told his father he was going to cycle to New York for him, his father suggested the charity he chose be one that helps out children.
So the Cops Cycle for Kids ride was born and has grown dramatically in both participants and the over $260,000 it has raised for the Hospital for Sick Children to build family bereavement rooms.
This year, 11 officers from 31 Division, along with a school teacher, four York University students and Hicks’ son, Brock, will cycle to the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia over a span of five days.
The reason Hicks chose Sick Kids was because, 14 years ago, Hicks and his partner, Constable Steven Sullivan participated in an exchange program with nurses from Sick Kids. The nurses did ride-alongs with the officers and the officers did a night shift at the hospital.
“We saw three babies die that night and the grieving parents had nowhere to go,” said Hicks, which was when the idea of creating bereavement rooms came to him and Sullivan. Hicks wife, Melody, a nurse at the time at the hospital, also gave him an understanding of the importance of their work.
From then on, since his first solo bike ride, “the guys bought into the dream,” said Hicks, of his peers at the Division and, since then, they have done seven Cops Cycle for Kids rides.
The officers all take vacation days to be able to participate in the ride and spend money out of their pockets so that every cent raised goes to the hospital and not on logistics or lodgings, explains Sergeant Pat Meehan, who is going to be participating for the third time this year.
“It’s some tragic event that usually brings us to Sick Kids usually,” said Meehan, on why police officers end up at the hospital. “We wanted to make their work easier."
They even raised a few hundred more dollars riding stationary bikes at a local Tim Horton's the day before setting out.
The four York University students are all members of the Women's Varsity ice hockey team and recently volunteered with 31 Division officers to teach children how to skate.
“Teaching children how to skate was an eye-opening experience,” said Justine Treadwell. “They treated us like superstars and made us thank-you cards.”
Both Treadwell and fellow student, Megan Lee, wanted to contribute further after such a positive experience giving back to the community.
“We know how hard it is going to be, but we are up for the challenge,” said Lee.
The team leaves in the early morning hours of May 9 and hopes to arrive at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Thursday, May 14.