June 22

June 23rd, 2007

Check out the Toronto Sun today. There’s a video of the Skate For Hope on their website HERE

 

Knowing that Princess Margaret Hospital is only about 35 km from Frank’s front door gave me the chance to sleep in until 7:30 today! In order to arrive at the hospital around noon, I didn’t have to leave Scarborough until 9 am. And to help ensure we reached our destination safely and on time, the Toronto Police sent an escort to take us all the way in! The officer lead me down Lawrence Ave to Kingston Road with lights flashing the whole time. This entire trip, the only real protection I have is a helmet and wrist guard. But having a police cruiser in front of me and the RV behind gives me an unusual, almost scary sense of power. With vehicles flying past me on the left and right, you’d think I’d feel vulnerable or intimidated, but it’s actually quite opposite. Maybe I’m foolish, careless or silly. Or maybe I’m just relying on the fact that most people are respectful and courteous drivers.

 

As I worked my way towards Toronto, my dad let me know that a reporter from the Toronto Sun would be coming out to meet me and shoot some video clips. Even though I had been warned and was expecting him, when Jack finally showed up he still caught me off guard. I’ve talked to and met a lot of reporters since beginning my skate in early May, but this one tops them all. He would drive up beside me and try to match my speed while snapping pictures out of the window. He’d then speed off ahead and setup to get some more shots as I skated past. He would do the same thing with a video camera to get some clips for the website. Jack would pop up in different places all the way into the city until we finally arrived at Princess Margaret Hospital. I felt like I was playing a real-life game of Wack-A-Mole. I never knew where jack would pop up next!

 

Just before coming into the downtown core, I was met at Woodbine Ave by Angelo Jorge. I don’t know Angelo and I’ve never met him, but he heard about me and my journey on Facebook. He had sent me many messages and let me know that he wanted to skate with me through Toronto! I let him know where I’d be and when, and sure enough he was there waiting for me with a big smile on his face. So away we went towards Lakeshore which we would be taking all the way into the city. the gentle downhill slope towards the lake made this stretch of road effortless. At least, it was effortless for me. I don’t think poor Angelo felt the same about the hill that I did. The police cruiser in front of me was slowing for a red light, so I naturally dragged my foot and coasted to a graceful stop. Not to be outdone, I saw Angelo out of the corner of my eye snaking side to side towards the cruiser before peeling off and jumping onto the sidewalk, rolling over a strip of grass and executing a perfect triple sow-cow landing elegantly on his elbow and butt! he made Codie’s little wipe out in Lansdowne look like a rookie. Although Codie is 12 years younger. But just like Codie, Angelo bounced back up with a grin and was ready to continue on. It was obviously just jitters, because we made it all the way to Princess Margaret without a hitch. Don’t worry, Angelo, I fell on my first day, Codie fell on his day, and now the torch has been passed to you. I have a few other friends who intend to come out and skate with me over the next few weeks. I’m curious to see what tricks they have up their sleeves that will out-do those before them.

 

Angelo and I faced some rough, pitted surfaces on Lakeshore as we skated beneath the Gardiner Expressway. But we made our way through the city, past the Royal York Hotel and came to rest on University Ave at Princess Margaret Hospital. We definitely turned some heads as we worked our way through the Toronto traffic with a police still in front. My direct contact at Princess Margaret has been Heidi Neuman. It was great to finally meet her, and a few other wonderful women from the foundation including Heidi’s boss, Wendy. They eagerly waited for me and greeted me enthusiastically as I rolled up right in front of the main entrance. And just as he’d been doing all along, Jack popped into the frame again snapping more photos and video. We all gathered and mingled for several minutes before the guest of honour arrived in fashion.

 

The man responsible for my entire inspiration and motivation has been Adam. He is the epitome of a fighter and survivor. He is positive, optimistic, and a true friend. And after nearly 3,500 km of rollerblading, I was finally face-to-face with him again. Although he had to drive down from Markham to see me, he wouldn’t have missed my arrival for the world. He jumped out of his car and locked me in a bear hug practically lifting me over his head. I’ve missed the traditional ‘Reid-style bear hug’. It was an emotionally satisfying moment to see Adam.

 

Our group grew a bit more when our friend, Ben, appeared from a nearby office building. We all headed around the corner and grabbing some lunch. I twas a nice chance to catch up with everyone and take longer than normal afternoon break. But before too long, everyone had to get back to work, including me.

 

I laced up my blades with Angelo hot on my heals. The Police escort was back and ready to take us through the city towards Mississauga. But being a Friday afternoon, there were 3 million other people with the same idea. Everyone wanted out of Toronto at the same time. It took nearly 45 minutes to get from Princess Margaret Hospital down to Lakeshore Blvd. If there’s one thing I don’t miss about Toronto, it’s the traffic. We sat (or stood) amongst the cars waiting patiently to get out of the town. I heard a disturbance behind me. I looked back to see a cab driver yelling at my parents. What I didn’t realize was that the cabbie had cut them off and nearly taken me out in the process. And then he had the audacity to yell at my mom as if she was in the wrong! I rolled back a few feet to interject and calmly looked the cabbie in the eyes and said “I’m sorry if we offended you. I’m just trying to raise money for cancer research. I hope you never get it.” And with a nasty flick of the wrist, the cab turned the corner in drove off in disgust. Again, I have to say, I’m still impressed that there have been very few of these types of incidences. I really expected more people to be angry with me being in the middle of the streets. So just to have one angry cabbie in a city of over 3 million people is pretty good!

 

Just before reaching Lakeshore, Angelo finished his skate with me at Union Station. I thanked him for his generosity and his participation and he said he’d try to meet up with us later tonight at Boston Pizza in Vaughn. Now that I was finally on Lakeshore, the traffic started to move a bit better. The winds were much stronger along the waterfront, and I had to work hard to keep up to the police escort, but it felt amazing when we pulled over in Mississauga and stopped for the day. It was still early (3:30 pm), but I knew I wasn’t too far from Hamilton and I wanted to optimize my free time in Toronto so I could see friends and most importantly my baby niece and sister in Maple.

 

I marked my place at Hurontario St on Lakeshore and we drove back through Brampton into Maple. And in case you weren’t paying attention before, I really don’t miss the traffic in this city. It still amazes me how many cars there are on the roads here and how much of a hurry everyone is to get where their’ going. Doesn’t everyone realize that I have places to get to? Everyone needs to get out of my way! But I guess that’s what everyone says.

 

The Boston Pizza near Vaughn Mills Mall was happy to host a simple reception for me where a lot of friends and family made appearances. Adam and his brothers, Crytal’s Dad and family, Jeff and Laura, Eugene and Amanda, and even Angelo and his mom. They were all there. My dad made his rounds through the restaurant chatting with patrons and handing out my newly acquired business cards (thank you Eugene and ehGRPHX). It was another low-key evening, but several donations made it very worthwhile. Even Mark, a server at the restaurant, donated all of his tips to the donation box I had setup. Thanks again to everyone. I’m looking forward to my day off tomorrow and Eugene’s house-warming party. It’ll be nice to relax with some old friends who I only see once or twice a year.

 

And for everyone else, I’ll be starting again on Sunday at Hurontario and Lakeshore where I’ll be making my way through Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and likely finishing near Grimsby. Be sure to honk and wave if you see me on the road!

 

NEW PHOTOS ARE UP

Posted in Daily Journal | 3 Comments »

Comments

3 Responses to “June 22”

  1. Gord Says:

    Rich – Great video! Too bad the timing didn’t work out – I would have loved to have met you guys downtown. Maybe when you return north of the city.

  2. Angelo Jorge Says:

    BAHAHA awesome fall by me *bows* almost smacked into a parked ford explorer
    anyway twas an awesome time skating with you that day. Nice seeing T.O from a different view. lol thanks for teaching me a new breaking technique maybe now i can rollerblade faster than i usually do.
    hope to maybe skate like this one day http://youtube.com/watch?v=c8KUDjegMCQ

    anyway have a fun and safe trip

  3. Marc LeBlanc Says:

    Hey hope everything is going well, I’ve been so busy that I finally just got around to telling my mom to check out her mile donation on the site…I know she will love it, good luck the rest of the way…Marc from Boston Pizza, Vaughn Mills

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