June 25

June 27th, 2007

I didn’t start my day off with my regular routine this morning. Although having my own room at the Best Western was great, I was a bit disoriented when I got out of bed. I’m so used to getting up, checking e-mails, having some food and hitting the road. But today I got up, had a shower (huge bonus!), was picked up by my Uncle who then drove me to Valley Way Elementary School in Niagara Falls. My cousin, Jeff teaches there and he told me they were having their year-end assembly today. So it was a perfect opportunity for me to visit the school and have the attention of everyone in the building. I was a last-minute addition to the agenda, so I could do my regular talk. Instead, Jeff showed the school the video clip from the Toronto Sun on the projector. He then called me up and presented me with a donation of money raised by the parent-teacher council. We then opened the floor up for questions. Staring out at the kids looking back at me, I could easily see a distinct line in the crowd where the primary and intermediate groups were divided. It was easy to tell because as soon as Jeff ask if anyone had questions, all the hands that shot into the air were on the primary side of the gymnasium. It’s funny how the older kids get, the more inhibited and self-conscious they become. Or maybe they had questions but Jeff was just showing favortism for his class. Who knows.


By 10:00 am I was back at Vineland where I met up with my parents and Aunt Lynda. I felt confident that I was well ahead of schedule so I decided today’s route would take us through St. Catherines, Niagara Falls, and end in Welland. Previously we thought we would be going straight to Welland. It was an honour to be accompanied by my Aunt on her bicycle today. She is a breast cancer survivor and now competes in triathlons around the world for team Canada.


To make things easier on us, the Police had sent another officer out to escort us to Niagara Falls. All was going great through St. Catherines and we were now approaching Niagara Falls when I heard the roar of an engine come screaming up beside me. I knew we were holding up traffic a bit, but having a Police escort usually calms people down. Especially when they see the big RV with “Skate For Hope” in black letters on the back. Well, this guy decided he’d try to make a quick pass and be on his way. Wrong. He came barreling up the road across the double solid lines before he was forced back over behind our Police escort due to on-coming traffic. And instead of waiting patiently for another clearing, he thought it would be best to tailgate the officer to emphasize his urgency to get past. You can imagine this didn’t sit well with the Constable. The next thing I knew, the door of the police car swung open as the Officer took a couple steps toward the impatient driver and gestured towards him. But the cop got back in his car and the tailgater took this as a sign to pass. So he threw his foot to the floor and sped past the cruiser. Wrong again. This time the officer flipped the sirens on and hurried after the car. The driver pulled over on the shoulder and came to a stop. ‘”This guys gonna get a big fine now,” I thought as I laughed into the walkie talkie back to my dad. But to all our amazement, the cop didn’t stop. This was even more humiliating for the driver. He was being sent back to the end of the line! It was priceless as I skated past the man and my Aunt gave him a polite wave. I understand that I slow traffic down, but seriously, you’ll have opportunities to pass. Please just show some patience with me. I’m not doing this to piss anyone off. I’m trying to help improve the lives of everyone.


The line of cars behind us continued to grow, but it was by no means out of control. Yet another driver decided the pace was just too slow for her liking. I heard her engine rev as she tore down the left side of the road past us and the police. I don’t think she saw the cop until it was too late. It was obvious the officer wanted to pull her over, too. He crept up on her, but quickly backed off. I think he decided that her pass was much safer than the previous man’s attempt. He later told me that this woman hauled past us doing 104 km/h in an 80 zone. But he gave her a grace.


We arrived at Oaks Park in Niagara Falls where we stopped for lunch and were met by a reporter from the Niagara Falls Review. The actual waterfalls were only a few kilometers from here, so it was a good resting point. I didn’t take my usual afternoon nap since I knew Welland was only about 20 km from here. So after my interview and a quick bite to eat, Aunt Lynda and I headed down Clifton Hill to the Falls. Up until now, we’ve been hitting all the major tourist attractions before tourist season actually started. But summer is now in full swing so we had to battle our way through the busy area. It wasn’t too bad, though. Traffic moved steadily and we didn’t slow anyone down. We found a place to pull over for a few minutes so my mom could snap a few pictures of me in front of the Falls. But there was no time to dilly-dally (is that even a word?). I continued blading along the Parkway which wound its way along the river until finally branching off to the West towards Welland. It was along this final stretch to Welland that I crossed paths with a remarkable woman.


She was the type of person I wish we could all be. I’m am extremely envious of her. She has never been affected by cancer. She has never known someone with cancer. In fact, she has never even heard of cancer. To live a life never knowing the fears of cancer would be incredible. How do I know all this about this young woman? It’s quite simple. On the way from Niagara Falls to Welland, I was rollerblading down Lyons Creek Road when this woman came driving up beside me from behind the RV. There was nothing out of the norm except that she gave a long angry blow of the car horn while holding her hand out the window towards me with her middle finger extended upright. The way I see it, for someone to be so upset with me, she must be unbelievably fortunate to not understand that 1 in 3 Canadians will have cancer at some point in their life. I wish I could live like her and not care about something like that. To make the situation even more humourous, the car immediately behind her was also blowing his horn. However, he was beeping short and encouragingly as he passed me saluting me with the traditional ‘thumbs up’.


Upon reaching the Welland city limits, Aunt Lynda and I were met by another Police escort. This Officer definitely enjoyed himself as we rolled through town. I could almost see his excited grin as he would block every intersection we approached with lights flashing and sirens blaring. What cop wouldn’t love that! He took us through town where I made a quick stop at D’Angelo Printing Company to thank them for the amazing job they did printing out my poster for my Uncle to plaster around the city. Less than a kilometer later, I was at Ron and Lynda’s front door and ready to stop for the day.


I had a bit of time to run back to the Best Western for a shower before heading over to M.T. Bellies restaurant for dinner. John Clark (owner), was very please to offer his establishment for another small reception for me. The food was great, the staff was excellent, and the magician was mind-boggling. Ron was just about ready to jump across the table and beat this poor kid because he was getting frustrated by the impressive magic tricks. After my delicious fajita dinner, I headed back to the hotel to relax and it wasn’t long before I was out like a light.

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