Kingston Whig Standard

 

Local man’s quest rolls on; Cross-country trek to benefit cancer research

 

Jordan Press
Local News – Monday, June 18, 2007 @ 00:00

 

Brian Ralph stood with a smile while he watched his son, Richard, speak with people in front of City Hall this weekend. Richard, 27, hadn’t yet taken off his in-line skates and didn’t have the look of someone who had been on those wheels for some 3,000 kilometres, all in an effort to raise money for cancer research.

 

This weekend, Richard and Brian Ralph came home to Kingston, one stop on a cross-country journey.

 

“We’re very proud,” said Brian, who, along with his wife, Bev, has followed Richard in a 1978 motorhome. “When people come up to him and talk to him, about the things he’s doing – [Richard is] going to make a difference.”

 

Richard Ralph began his cross-country trek in May and expects to complete the 10,000-kilometre journey by September.

 

He has dubbed the journey the Skate of Hope to raise money for cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

 

His motivation for rolling across the country? The one person who can’t be on the trip with him, but is driving him every stride of the way.

 

When Richard Ralph found out his good friend, Adam Reid, had been diagnosed with throat and lung cancer, he was shocked. Reid wasn’t a smoker and was physically fit.

 

Pondering what he could do, Richard Ralph proposed the idea of going across the country on his Rollerblades as a way to raise money. He passed the idea on to his parents, who said he should make sure to have transportation with him and not lose his job.

 

His company gave him a sabbatical and Richard Ralph found a 1978 motorhome. His parents, both retired elementary teachers from Kingston, decided to join him to help Reid and others.

 

Surgery removed the tumour in Reid’s throat, but the cancerous cells in his lungs haven’t been as easy to destroy. Reid has gotten better, but not well enough to join the Ralphs on this trip.

 

When the tour rolls through Toronto this week, Richard Ralph will make a stop at his friend’s home. The next time the two will likely meet is on the West Coast, where Richard Ralph is scheduled to finish his cross-country trek.

 

Richard Ralph said his friend’s battle gives him the drive each morning to strap on the blades and roll along.

 

“That’s a huge motivation for me because I don’t have cancer,” he said. “I can [do this]. There’s a lot of people that can’t.”

 

So far, he’s had to deal with a snowstorm and a broken wheel on his journey.

 

Both incidents took place in Newfoundland, where he started his trip last month.

 

Shortly after leaving St. John’s on Day 1, he radioed his father to say he wanted to change a wheel.

 

Just as he finished his message, a wheel broke off and sent him to the pavement. He broke two wheels, bent a rail on his blades and got some scrapes.

 

On his last day in the province, he had to skate through a snowstorm, but Richard Ralph said that as bad as it was, he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

 

After going to McMaster University in Hamilton, Richard Ralph went out west to join a website hosting company. That was three years ago.

 

“But Kingston’s home,” Richard Ralph said.

 

“It feels like a milestone to get here.”

 

He hopes his stay in town will also get him closer to his fundraising milestone – his goal is $300,000. Today, Boston Pizza will donate 10 per cent of its sales between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. He’ll also be visiting schools to talk about what he’s doing.

 

For details, visit seetheend.lmthosting.com.

 

jpress@thewhig.com