It takes a whole team to get Tour de Rock riders all the way from the first day of training to the last kilometres of the ride itself.

It is a journey the riders can’t imagine taking without their partners, the Junior Team.

They are kids of different ages, different backgrounds, and different interests, but they all have one thing in common: They have been touched by cancer. 

Some have been diagnosed themselves. For others, it is a sibling. As any family facing a cancer diagnosis is quick to tell you, it takes over all of their lives. 

Desiree Young has loved her experiences on the Junior Team. 

"It’s amazing to feel so supported by your community and see everybody that gets involved and backs people and fundraises," she said. 

Desiree, now 17 years old, was diagnosed when she was just five.

She has come back to be part of the Junior Team over and over. 

She said childhood cancer changes everything.

"When you are on treatment you are constantly, like you don’t feel good, you feel sick and you just can’t be yourself anywhere," Desiree said. In addition to all of that, there is the impact of feeling "different" from other kids. 

"After treatment and during treatment you look different than how you did before. Or you might have to use, like, a wheelchair or have lost your hair, have a scar or something and in normal cases people might judge you about that. You might not want to wear certain clothing or, just, you are less confident to be yourself," she said. 

One of the few places she always felt at home was Camp Goodtimes, which gets funding from the Tour de Rock. 

"The atmosphere, it’s a really positive and non-judgemental atmosphere so you can really be yourself and not worry if you have hair or if you don’t have you don’t have to worry about any of your scars, you can just really enjoy being a kid or a teen."

Desiree and other members of the Junior Team attend what events they can with their designated rider. 

"Cops for Cancer rides for them; they are our inspiration," explained Jan Buehler, Annual Giving Team Lead for the ride. "Ultimately having these amazing kids and families involved really brings it home as to what and who we are trying to raise money for."

Desiree’s rider is Yvonne Raymond. 

"One thing I admire about Desiree is her willingness to talk openly about her experience with cancer," said Raymond. "I imagine it’s not always easy, but I think her honesty has tremendous power to bridge gaps of misunderstandings and encourage other children who have been affected by cancer to embrace who they are too. She’s a positive role model."

Getting the support of the team, and members of the public who come out to donate or just cheer them on makes a huge difference to Desiree. 

"It’s really cool to see because it helps us feel less alone and feel like we have a team and we are going to beat cancer together."