By Lyonel Doherty
Seven-year-old Aiden Girard from Oliver couldn’t wait to show 17 police officers his missing teeth on Saturday.
It was a proud moment for the officers as they saw firsthand the results of their fundraising efforts through Cops for Kids.
The group arrived at the fire hall to many cheers as the Oliver Lioness Club organized a barbecue for the public.
It was also a special day because one of the bicycle riders, Jared Zeeman, was celebrating his 37thbirthday.
This is Zeeman’s second year with Cops for Kids, a program that raises money for children in medical crises.
And Aiden is a perfect example.
His Mother, Kathryn Barclay, explained that her son had a grinding problem, which resulted in his teeth deteriorating over time.
His dentist said the only option was to have his teeth pulled, which was a costly procedure. So the dentist suggested applying for financial assistance through Cops for Kids.
Barclay said she did exactly that and received approval a week later.
“They handled it all; it was a stress-free transition.”
Aiden had six teeth removed and had silver caps put on five others. Needless to say, he doesn’t grind anymore.
When asked how he felt about that, he only uttered a single word: “Good.”
He agreed that his mouth feels a lot better now, adding that he really likes what the police officers are doing to help kids like him.
Zeeman said when he first joined Cops for Kids, he thought it would just be a fun way to get in shape and meet different people. But he quickly learned it’s much more than that after seeing what the donations do for families.
“It’s actually pretty overwhelming. I’m a father and you see (these) families and think about what would you do in the same situation and how would you be able to cope.”
Zeeman said during their 1,000- kilometre bike ride they get to meet about 40 kids with medical needs. No doubt the enthusiasm from the other riders spurs him on, even during the most challenging of climbs.
“But it’s when you consider what some of these kids are going through at such young ages. What’s two hours of a bit of cramp riding up a hill compared to (the crisis these children face)?”
Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen knows all too well what it’s like to have a child in a medical crisis.
In 1992 his daughter was born with a lack of oxygen and had to be treated at BC Children’s Hospital.
“At that time we thought our daughter was going to pass away. They even came and gave her last rites.”
But she pulled through and continues to struggle with handicaps at age 27.
Johansen said programs that assist families during these challenging times are very important. For example, having a place to stay while your child is in hospital, or having that extra money to take the pressure off is so paramount.
Johansen told the police officers on Saturday how inspired he was by their actions.