The 10th annual Chip Run in Smithers July 24 saw a record 109 motorcycles participate and raised what will undoubtedly be a record amount of money when it is all counted.
The 230-kilometre round-trip motorcycle ride is organized annually by Lainie Waterhouse whose brother, Bob, passed away in 2011 from cancer. All funds raised go directly to the Community Cancer Care Team (CCCT) in Smithers.
“My brother, Bob, was the Frito Lay rep out of Smithers,” said Waterhouse. “And so he delivered chips from Smithers to Kitwanga daily, so that’s why we call it the Chip Run,”
The Chip Run started in Smithers, and returned to Smithers, with the turnaround spot in Kitwanga—exactly like Bob’s usual work route. The ride this year ended at the home of a friend, who hosted a silent auction, and a dinner with music and games for the riders.
Bikers came from as far away as Ontario, as well as BC towns and cities such as Langley, Mackenzie, Kamloops, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Burns Lake, Hazelton, Smithers and Houston. Forty-four riders came from Prince George alone this year, said Waterhouse.
The ride always involves a game of poker. Participants buy poker hands, and at end of the ride, the best hand receives 50 per cent of the funds raised, while the other portion goes to the CCCT in Smithers. They also sell patches and shirts for the ride.
This year’s patch had an image of crossbones, and a banner across the bottom that read, “10th Annual Chip Run 2021,” as well as “F*** Cancer”—a slogan used frequently at the Chip Run.
Waterhouse’s brother, Bob, was only 45 years old when he passed from cancer. His battle with it lasted only a few months.
“He was diagnosed in April 2011 with cancer, and passed away July 27 from it,” said Waterhouse. “So just a short battle… three months. The first year we got together, it was mostly family on motorcycles… family and friend and we managed to raise 1,500 dollars.”
The money that year went to purchasing a new chair for cancer patients receiving treatments to sit in. Bob had lost a lot of weight throughout the time he was sick, and found the chair he often had to sit in at the cancer clinic uncomfortable. It was replaced with a Lazy Boy recliner chair known as the “Bob chair.”
It’s a hit with the patients now, said Waterhouse.
Since then the Chip Run has grown by 10-20 biker participants each year since that first event was hosted.
The highest previous amount raised was in 2019, totalling $20,000. Last year despite COVID-19 restrictions, the run raised $15,000.
“It hits everybody. And the more that I’ve gotten into organizing this, I hear almost daily somebody that I know, their family or friend, or somebody, has been fighting it. It hits everybody, so when people hear that it stays local, they’re really willing to support it.”
The run also has a number of sponsors and volunteers who help see it through. This year, gold medal sponsor Ed Levick of Burns Lake was presented with a plaque for his efforts, said Waterhouse.
Levick works for Burns Lake Native Logging Corporation operated under Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC). Both organizations sent six volunteers to Kitwanga to cook up a pulled pork and potato salad lunch for the bikers on the Chip Run.
“For us it was simple, because we all have history with cancer,” said Tanya McLean, BLNDC executive assistant, who has numerous family members who have battled cancer, and some who passed away because of it.
“Anything that has to do with cancer, in my opinion, is a worthy thing to volunteer for,” said McLean. “And once one of our employees (Ed) asked us to volunteer and cook for this, there was no hesitancy in doing it.”