July 7

July 9th, 2007

My escort from the Espanola Police arrived promptly in front of the Goodman’s house and waited for me to strap on my blades. Keith presented me with a sacred Ojibiwan gift. He gave me a braided strand of Sweet Grass which is believed to bring good spirits in and provide protection and safety on your travels. Thank you, Keith. I snapped a few pictures with Keith and Penny before heading out of town towards the Trans Canada Highway. The officer left us at the crossroads and I started towards Sudbury. This was the first time I’d taken a stride on the TCH since leaving it in Riviere Du Loop, Quebec. I hadn’t gone very far before the rain started. But I can’t complain because I haven’t had to skate in the rain all day in a long time. Plus, it wasn’t windy, so my pace was still about 20 km/hr. It was also nice having some confidence in the road conditions. If highway 6 was skateable, the TCH must be good. And in fact, I was even treated to the occasional extra-wide paved shoulder.


Everything, except the rain, seemed to be going my way and before I knew it, I was in Sudbury. It was only about 1 o’clock and I wasn’t supposed to be at the Boston Pizza until 6:30 pm. So we decided to stop by anyway just to drop off some posters and let them know we were in town. What we weren’t expecting was to be invited to stay for lunch. Sounded like a good idea to me! After all, we won’t be seeing another BP until we hit Thunder Bay. I’ll be having withdrawl.


After lunch we ran a few errands and then headed over to my friend’s house. I was fortunate to get in touch with Alex, whom I went to University with, and her husband Tim via Facebook not too long ago. When Alex heard I was coming through Sudbury, She was more than willing to have my parents and I stay with her. And we were more than happy to accept the offer! It’s been years since I’d seen Alex so it was really nice to chat again.


Pretty soon it was time to head back to Boston Pizza where the real excitement began. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Sudbury store, but this visit will go down as one of the best so far. I had barely got my laptop setup for the slideshow when the media started to arrive. The Northern Life newspaper, The Sudbury Star, Channel 10 News and CTV all showed up to catch a glimpse of yours truly. It was a phenomenal experience. It was more like a press conference than an interview. But the media wasn’t even the best part of the night. The owners and managers of the restaurant went above and beyond the call of duty. Actually, the entire staff was incredible. I’ve been to a few Boston Pizza Locations where the staff didn’t seem to know who I was or what I was doing. But every single employee here was well informed and very excited to have me. Thank you to everyone who was working to help make tonight a success. A special thanks to the management team Rosa, Clint, Matt and Vanessa. Just a quick note about Clint. He was really playing with fire to ensure tonight went without a glitch. He walked a thin line and I hope I was worth it. Why was Clint risking so much, and what was he risking? Well, he came in on his day off, which also happened to be the same day he got engaged, to make sure things ran smoothly at the restaurant. Clint, you’re a brave man for abandoning your new fiancee for me. I don’t think I’d have the guts to do that, but I’m flattered! The staff pulled out all the tricks for me. They presented me with a giant novelty check, they made announcements on the loud speaker in the restaurant, but the icing on the cake was having Lionel the Mascot walking around the store collecting donations. Another special thanks to Danyka for making the hot, stuffy sacrifice of being Lionel and for letting me try on the mascots head! And yes, there are pictures to come. Many people over the course of the evening opened up to me with personal stories of their encounters with cancer. But perhaps the most memorable for me was one particular cook who was not scheduled to work but asked to come in just to meet me. To be able to provide a bit of hope for people like him and his girlfriend, who has stage 3 cancer, makes my entire journey worth every minute.


I don’t know how they were able to manage it, but the entire staff gathered in front of the restaurant where we all posed for a group photo. I’m not sure who was watching the tables or cooking the meals, but it made for an awesome picture and a great finale to the night. After that, we headed back to Alex and Tim’s house where we had another opportunity to chat before I headed for bed.


It was an incredible, unforgettable and unexpected evening in Sudbury and helped raise nearly $500 for the Skate For Hope. The next major stop will be Sault Saint Marie in a few days. I should be there by Tuesday night. Does anyone have any connections for me in the Soo? I don’t know a soul there and could use as much help as possible. The ball is rolling well now and I hope I can keep the momentum through the rest of Northern Ontario.

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