It doesn’t take much to get Sergeant Steve Hicks pedalling for kids but a recent cause close to home inspired him and colleagues to raise money with the help of the community.
When the 31 Division officer learned that a colleague and his family needed urgent help to take care of their ailing son, he jumped on a bike.
Born two months premature with multiple diseases and disorders, Nicholas Lapensee was expected to live just two weeks. That’s what doctors told his dad, Sergeant Sylvain Lapensee, and his mother.
The young boy turned four a few weeks ago, but life has not been easy for his parents.
Blind, unable to walk, fed through a tube and with only minimal use of one hand, he will never lead a normal life, as he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, is a quadriplegic and suffers from seizures. Nicholas requires specialized formula, numerous medications, diapers, tubing, bathing accessories and a lift to help move him in his home.
“When I saw the plight of this family, I knew I had to do something to help,” said Hicks.
In a 24-hour span on August 19, Hicks and other Community Response Unit members at his Division raised almost $1,800 from a stationary bike-a-thon held outside Tim Hortons at 4211 Keele St., near York University.
Many Service members have also chipped in with individual donations as well as organizing bakes sales and BBQs to raise money for Nicholas' needs.
Hicks relishes riding to raise funds for worthy causes. In the last decade, he and fellow officers have raised approximately $300,000 for SickKids Hospital by cycling from Toronto to American cities. Last May, he and 17 riders, including 11 police officers, four York University students, a local teacher and a Toronto Hydro employee, rode 960 kilometres to Philadelphia for this year’s Cops Cycle for Kids ride.
“We normally do a community barbecue during the summer to raise funds for Cops Cycle for Kids,” said Hicks. “Instead of doing that, we decided to do a short and sweet bike ride for Nicholas.”
Constables Dalida Matias and Kelly Crawford joined Hicks in the first hours of the charity ride.
“It broke my heart when I saw the story,” said Matias. “I have kids of my own and I would not want to go through an ordeal like that with any of them.” Crawford, who joined the Service 15 years ago, is also a mother.
“If something like that happens, I would appreciate my colleagues coming together and assisting in any way possible,” she added.
“That’s why I am out here.” Vijay Verma, who owns the Tim Hortons franchise, didn’t think twice when Hicks approached him with the idea for the fundraiser on his premises. “I have a good working relationship with Steve and his Division,” said Verma. “It’s a great cause and I am just happy to be able to do my part to support it.”
For the last two years, the Division has held a Community Safety Day in memory of Verma’s wife, Nazli, who passed away in September 2013.
Inspector Riyaz Hussein, the second-in-command at 31 Division, lauded the fundraising effort.
“It’s great to see the community come together with the officers to support an incredible cause,” he said. “Illness touches many families within our Service and it’s good to see this kind of positive response to raise funds. When sickness affects a child, the need for us to respond is even greater.”