July 1

July 3rd, 2007

This morning I seemed to have an extra glide to my stride. Maybe it was because I was well rested, or maybe because I only had 35 km to cover today. Whatever it was, it felt great. I started at Hurontario and headed south to Queen Street. In the first 2 kilometers of the day, I had 2 cars drive up beside me and offer drive-by donations. This is definitely my favorite way to accept donations. It doesn’t get any better than cruising along at 20 km/h and grabbing a bill out of someone else’s hand from inside a moving car. The best part of the donation today were the reactions of the contributors. Instead of the typical “Good work”, or “Keep it up” comment, both of these people surprised me with “Thank You!” I’m usually the one thanking them for the money, but this time they thanked me. It was humbling but gratifying moment. It really gave me a sense of pride for what I was doing. It made me reflect on my efforts from a different perspective. People really are grateful for what I’m doing even though in my mind all I’m doing is rollerblading. To me, it’s the people who donate that need to be thanked. I’m just the guy collecting it all!


A little ditty about Jack and Diane. Two Canadian kids growing up in the heart land. Well, it’s not quite the same as the John Mellencamp song, but Diane and Jack showed up unexpectedly again. This time they escorted me through Brampton and all the way to Woodbridge. Because the distance I had to skate today was short, I wasn’t planning on taking any breaks, but then some more unexpected visitors entered the scene. Paul, Sylvia and Victoria Di Domizio showed up with camera in hand to see me in action. Crystal will be happy to see the pictures I have with her little sister, Victoria. After a brief stop to chat with everyone, I continued on along highway 7 until I reached Yonge Street where I turned North and stopped for the day in Richmond Hill.


On the way back to Becky’s house for a shower, Barry called me to let me know that he had done a bit more digging in Brantford and managed to get a few local businesses to donate a couple hundred dollars each! I can’t emphasize enough how lucky I was to stumble across Barry in St. Mary’s a few days earlier.


I had a little bit of time at my sisters house to work on the website a bit and try to get caught up on the journals. Yes, I’m slacking. I know. But I’m getting closer. Before long, we were heading out the door and up the 400 to Innisfil for the first annual See The End Reid-Ralph Barbecue Bonanza. Adam’s parents invited us over for an afternoon and evening of relaxation, food and fireworks. Does Canada Day get any better than that?! I walked around to the back yard where I was caught off guard by about 20 of Adam’s relatives who immediately started applauding. It was kind of cute, but unnecessary. I was just coming for the free food and beer!


All kidding aside, it was amazing to meet all of Adam’s family. Aunts, Uncles and cousins from far and wide had converged in a single gathering point in Innisfil for this one glorious evening. And the only time I felt at all uncomfortable was when I had mentioned to Aunt Nancy that we had stayed in Cambridge for a night. I was pretty sure the Skate For Hope was over at that moment because I had visions of her breaking my knees. Originally I had no plans to go through Cambridge, which I really didn’t. But when I arrive in Kitchener, we ended up sleeping at Tina and Chris’ place in the North-West area of town. But my fear of Aunt Nancy was short lived. Adam and Nancy pulled me aside and presented me with my most cherished gift received on this trip. It was a very simple, but extremely sentimental Canadian pin. I won’t go into all the details, but it is something I will hold onto with great honour.


The barbecue was also a last opportunity for me to see many of my friends before heading north and on with my journey. So it was really nice to have Jeff, Laura, Eugene, Amanda, and Ryan all there to share in the festivities.


It wouldn’t be Canada Day without some pyrotechnics. And Adam’s family would have nothing but the best. Growing up as a kid, I can remember spending this long weekend at my cottage with little sparklers and being amazed. Well, Adam’s family showed me how you’re supposed to celebrate. The show lasted quite a while with some amazing displays. At one point, we even seemed to be having a head-to-head competition with the neighbors fireworks. Theirs may have lasted longer, but ours was definitely more impressive.


It was getting late and we had to drive back to Maple. So we snapped a few last pictures with friends and family before making the trek back down the 400 to Rutherford. The plan for tomorrow is to get up past Barrie and then drive back to the Boston Pizza near Molson Park for another little reception. Hopefully the wind will shift and won’t be coming straight out of the north while I’m heading up Yonge Street.

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