ROCK ready to roll for children’s cancer

The annual charity event is a small way to keep her daughter’s memory alive, keeping her place in their family.

But doing her promotional videos every year, and browsing photos and videos from Samantha’s last few weeks, brings back “all those memories that can be hard on their own,” her father, Bob Thomas, said.

“At the end of the day, we know she would be proud and looks at us smiling.”

After losing their daughter to acute lymphoblastic lymphoma just before her third birthday, Thomas, a lifelong motorcyclist with “organizational skills and some organizational experience,” and his wife Lori launched the charity event of ROCKRIDE motorcycle to raise funds for Childhood Cancer Canada.

The first event in 2004 raised over $13,000. This number doubled the second year.

Now, with over half a million dollars raised for childhood cancer research, Thomas and his wife, along with their son Noah and daughter Victoria (Samantha’s twin sister), are ready to bring ROCK (Ride for Our Cancer Kids) after two pandemic-filled years.

In 2020, the event was cancelled. In 2021, the family did a hybrid version, called Alpha Rock Tour, with participants riding bikes and taking selfies at roadside attractions.

“I look forward to seeing many of our regular riders who come year after year. A lot of people, in the biker community, haven’t socialized a lot, so it’s nice to get together,” said Thomas.

Although close, he is not quite back to normal. Saturday’s one-day event will see participants – they can register online or in person – ride in small groups, not in “one big parade”. It will be a Yahtzee race, with dice rolls at the start, finish, halfway barbecue and two more stops. The final will take place at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Niagara Falls.

The prize for the highest score is a ride for two from Niagara Helicopters, and the grand prize is $500 in gas cards.

There will be a few new elements to the ride. Thomas said that as his children grew up, their roles in the event evolved, with ROCKRIDE marking milestones in their lives.

For the first time, her son will lead the first group of runners (in her place) and Victoria will oversee the barbecue.

“My whole family is introverted, the ride pushes us out of our comfort zones. To see them rise to the occasion is very rewarding,” said Thomas.

“I was the proudest dad in the room when Victoria sang ‘Three Years’ – a song I wrote years ago about Sammy and the ROCK – in front of a bar full of bikers. I will feel the same pride this weekend saluting Noah’s band on the road.

All donations go to the C17 Research Fund, which goes to 17 children’s hospitals across Canada.

More information about registering for ROCKRIDE and how to donate can be found at

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Edward L. Robinett