June 29

June 30th, 2007

I thought I was up early today, but Sandra and her roommates were awake and gone to work before I was ready to skate! We met up with a police and fire escort at Airport Road at 8:00 am where I was lead into the heart of London and up Richmond Road. With the police in front of me and the fire truck behind the RV, we were invincible! We breezed through every intersection with ease. It was obvious that the conditions were favourable for me because I was through the city, past Western University and out by Masonville Mall before 8 am! By the time 10 o’clock rolled around, I had already reached highway 7 and turned towards Kitchener.

 

Although highway 7 was busy, the road was long, straight and boring. Fortunately, the occasional drive-by donation helped to keep my spirits up. It’s great to see that even on the back country roads, people are still willing to offer whatever they can. I was just about to pull off the highway and head into the town of St. Mary’s when a vehicle pulled over to make a donation. And immediately in front of them, another SUV stopped to see me, as well. I love when people have to wait in line to donate! It makes me feel like I’m actually getting though to the masses. The gentleman who waited patiently to meet me and donate was apologetic for only having a few dollars in his pocket. I already told you this, Barry, if everyone gave me just a toonie, I’d already be at $300,000. So your donation exceeds my expectations. As we chatted a few minutes, it turned out that Barry was an advertising mogul in Brantford. I had mentioned to him about coming through Brantford yesterday and being disappointed that I wasn’t able to hook up with Walter Gretzky. “I know the Gretzky family. Let me make some calls,” Barry told me casually. It was a nice gesture, but I was trying not to get my hopes up. I hadn’t even finished my lunch less than an hour later when Barry called me to let me know that I was invited to meet Walter at the opening ceremony of the 1st annual Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament in Brantford tomorrow morning! I was more than willing to drive back to Brantford for this once in a life time opportunity.

 

I felt light on my skates for most of the remaining afternoon. There was a light breeze, but not much shoulder to skate on. Traffic was thickening as people were taking off from work early to take full advantage of Canada Day Weekend. A few of the drivers must have been a bit too anxious to get to cottage country and didn’t appreciate that I was on ‘their’ road. As we came through the quaint town of Startford, I noticed that cars had suddenly stopped passing me. Thinking this to be odd, I glanced over my shoulder to investigate the reasoning. There was the RV with my dad behind the wheel as always, but there was an OPP cruiser stopped beside him having a word. A moment later the police drove up to me and let me know about a few complaints that drivers had been making. I could hardly believe my ears! We had just been pulled over by the police for the first time in nearly 4000 kilometers! When the officer told me what people had been complaining about, I couldn’t help but laugh at the similarity between my situation and that of Jennifer Aniston in the movie Office Space. Apparently the RV didn’t have enough “flare” to make it distinguishable. People were upset that it was not marked clearly enough. I skated to the back of the motor home with a puzzled look on my face. Let me paint the picture for you. The back of the RV (for those of you who haven’t already seen the pictures) has ‘Skate For Hope – SeeTheEnd.com’ in big black letters at the top. And directly under that in bigger, blacker letters is the word ‘SLOW’. It’s not overly attractive, but it’s impossible to miss. And to make absolutely sure we won’t go unnoticed while driving, we have fastened red plastic ribbons all over the back of the RV. I stood there absorbing our masterpiece and counted 20 red ribbons! 20!! And people were still not happy?! ‘Well, if you want me to wear 47 pieces of flare, then make the minimum 47!’ But, I’m not one to argue (unless it’s with my parents or Crystal:)) so we pulled out Red Green’s cure-all, duct tape, and fastened a few additional ribbons on the back.

 

Satisfied with our newly improved artistic creation, we continued on through Shakespeare and towards Kitchener-Waterloo. I wasn’t far out of the big city when we hit our first major construction zone. I pause briefly trying to see if there was an alternative, but I was forced to hop in the RV for about 2 or 3 kilometers to get through the gravel. Normally, I would have been stubborn and walked carefully through it, but there was only one lane and no room for me along the edge. It was late in the day and I wasn’t happy about having to bypass this small stretch of road. Our patience was all running thin. My dad and I had a small tiff and I can’t even remember what it was about. But it just reinforced the fact that we’re all human. We all get frustrated and we all have bad days. But because I was raised in a loving environment, we were both able to apologize for being short and realize that we weren’t really mad at each other. We were just mad at the tough situation and put it all behind us quickly.

 

I started skating again when the road became 2 lanes once more. But the construction wasn’t done yet. you know when they grind the pavement to prep it for re-paving? Well, I was faced with ove 4 km of that type of surface. it was slow and painful. My entire body shook and was nearly numb by the time I was through it all. The only good thing that come of this struggle was the fact that the oncoming traffic was bumper to bumper so everyone couldn’t help but notice me. Hopefully it was great exposure. Although I’m sure some people just looked at me like I was nuts for subjecting my body to such punishing conditions.

 

As the construction zone ended, the road became enjoyable again. But the enjoyment was short-lived. Before I could realize what had happened, the road suddenly became a major freeway. I may have been doing 25 km/h, but the cars all around me were moving at 130 km/h! The situation had gone from painful to uncomfortable. I’m not sure which was worse. As quickly as I could I got to an exit that I knew would take me into Kitchener. I decided that I would stop here for the day at Fisher-Hallman Rd and Highway 7. I was pleased that I started the day East of London and had covered almost 110 km.

 

We drove through Kitchener into Waterloo where we were expected at the Boston Pizza on King St West. We were joined by my parents friends, Tina and Chris, who came up from Cambridge just to see us. Not having given the staff more than a days notice about coming to their store, I was exceedingly impressed with this Boston Pizza. Yesterday, Sean had stood on a chair and bellowed to the entire restaurant about who I was and what I was doing. Today in Waterloo, the management team kept things a bit more low key, but gathered donations for me in excees of $660! And what made it really special was the giant novelty check that was presented to me in front of the store (picture to come soon). To Brian and all the staff at Boston Pizza Waterloo…Thanks you for your help!

 

The serving staff at this Boston Pizza were some of the best people I’ve met. One server came up to me right away and started asking me logistical questions about how I prepared for my journey. She was very interested because she plans to run across Ontario for cancer research next summer. I hope I can offer her some helpful advice along the way.

 

Another server came up to me just before I was leaving and was so thankful to me for what I was doing. She confided in me about her personal experiences with cancer. It’s moments like this when I’m able to give hope to people who deserve it that make my entire trip worth the adversity. I may or may not raise $300,000, but to know that I’ve influenced so many peoples lives in a positive way is more emotional gratifying than any dollar amount.

 

We drove back through Waterloo and Kitchener until we finally got to Cambridge where Chris and Tina live. They were leaving early in the morning for a cottage, as well, but they offered a place for us to stay and we couldn’t turn them down. While the old folks chatted amongst themselves, I had a chance to meet Chris and Tina’s daughter, Courtney. It’s always nice to have a peer in the same age bracket so I don’t have to discuss hair loss or pension plans. Courtney had traveled through Australia as I had done a few years ago. So it was nice to see some of her pictures and rekindle memories of my own. I hope we keep in touch. You’re a fun girl, Courtney. You’ll have to come visit Crystal and I in Vancouver.

 

It turned out to be a later night than expected, but it was an amazingly eventful day. I’m pretty excited to meet Walter tomorrow. The only downside is that I have to get up extra early to make sure we get to Brantford in time.

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