June 30

July 3rd, 2007

Like a kid on Christmas morning, I was up early bright-eyed and ready to go. That’s a first because I’m usually a miserable grump when I wake up. But today I had a good reason to be excited. I was on my way to meet the legendary Walter Gretzky!


We met up with Barry English before heading over to Lion’s Park to meet the man. Barry still amazes me with his willingness to help. He is the one responsible for arranging to have me meet Walter. We pulled into the parking lot only to see hundreds of people ranging from 7 years old and up. There were 40 teams in the Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament and they were all there ready to play. Barry asked me to put my blades on for effect which I gladly did. We wandered over to the tent where the opening ceremony was to take place. And there he was. With his trademark smile from ear to ear, Walter was happily chatting with kids and signing autographs. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t run over to him right away. I was told that I would be introduced and would have a chance to meet him one-on-one. While I waited eagerly, Barry walked me around (I actually rolled around) and introduced me to various people including Brantford’s Mayor, the MP, the MPP and even the town crier! But my moment of glory came soon after. The ceremony started and within minutes I was being called upon to shake Mr. Gretzky’s hand. What was really incredible about the whole experience was that as amazed as I was to meet Walter, he seemed equally and genuinely impressed to be meeting me. It was a very humbling experience, but one I’ll never forget. Once the tournament started and the crowd dispersed into the stands, Walter and I had an opportunity to sit and chat. He’s a remarkable man full of energy and high on life. He was very happy to sign a few autographs for me. And once he got started, he couldn’t stop! He was signing pictures for me, for my parents, for my sister and her husband, for Adam and Adam’s brother’s. I practically had to rip the pen from his hand to make him stop.


After about 45 minutes, both Walter and I had other obligations to attend to. I was scheduled to be at Boston Pizza in Brampton so I had a lot of skating to get done. We drove back to Kitchener where I left off. Waiting for me at my starting point were another pair of smiling faces. Ann and Dave Rowe had come up from Woodstock to see me. I’d missed them when I went through Woodstock a couple days before, so they went out of their way to come see me. We chatted for a bit while I taped my ankles to prepare for the skate ahead. Ann gave me a wonderful donation and a pie! And a delicious pie it was! Crystal’s favorite!


I was escorted by a police officer through downtown Kitchener and emerged on Highway 7 on the opposite side heading towards Guelph. It wasn’t too far to the next city, but the road was busy. I’ve mentioned this before, but I apologize for slowing traffic down. All I ask is that drivers exercise a small amount of patience. It won’t kill you to slow down and wait few extra seconds for a safe opportunity to pass me rather trying to swing out into oncoming traffic and then cut in front of me at the last second. It’s really not worth the risk.


I received another escort through Guelph and was making great time. I was nearly in Acton when a little red car coming towards me pulled a quick u-turn and turned their 4-way flashers on. I thought maybe they wanted to stop and chat with me, but they just started driving slowly as if to lead me along the road. I found this to be abit odd, but I had a small hunch of who was driving. As we came through the village, I was able to pick up speed quickly thanks to a nice rolling hill and slight tail wind. I must have caught the red car off guard because in a flash I was coasting up beside them. I bent over to say hello and just as I thought, I was greeted by the big bright smiles of Noreen and Diane! They had driven all the way out from Brampton just to see me and help escort me the rest of the way. Two amazing women.


With favourable winds and nice downhill slopes through Halton Hills, I made fantastic time. I broke 55 km/h more than once today! But my good luck was bound to run out. As I came through Georgetown and Norval, I headed past what used to be my favorite bar (formerly Nashville North), and up a hill leading into Brampton. Just as I approached the summit, the winds shifted and slammed into my face. I fought my way through the winds and the spitting ran that was threatening from above and managed to finish at Highway 7 and Hurontario. I went through my typical routine of removing my gear and cutting the tape off my ankles. But this time something was different. The tape didn’t want to let go. You may remember that I wear knee-high nylons on my feet and put the tape over top. Well, I’m not sure if the tape I’m using is different or the nylons are cheaper, but the adhesive is going through the panty hose and sticking to my skin. And since my skin is soft from a long sweaty day in my blades, it’s very difficult to peel the tape off without ripping my skin off with it. We’ll see what happens over the next few days.


We quickly drove over to my sisters house where she graciously is letting us stay even though she’s not even home. But that’s ok. I didn’t really want to see Greg anyway. Only kidding. It would have been nice to see him since we missed him when we came through Toronto last week, too. I want to thank you again, Becky for everything you’ve done. From spreading the word at your company, to collecting donations, to providing shelter for us. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. You’re a great sister. And thanks for giving me an awesome niece, too!


After a quick shower, my dad and I headed over to Boston Pizza in Brampton where the owner has agreed to donate 5% of anyone’s bill who says they want to support me! So from now until September, if you eat at the Boston Pizza at Airport Road and Highway 7 (Queen St), be sure to let the server and/or manager know that you wish to support me. You can even write it on your bill to make sure. My mom didn’t come for dinner this time because she wanted to get some cleaning done in the RV. The place would be a disaster without her with us. When I walked into the restaurant, I was greeted with a thunderous ovation from a big table in the center of the dining area. Noreen had brought her mom, dad, brother, best friend and best friends son, Matthew. I was touched by the kindness and the gesture of coming out to see and support me. Little Matthew was pretty excited to meet me and I was pretty excited when ha walked up to me and donated! He’s a great kid headed in the right direction. I was then caught off guard when 2 women walked up to me to say hello. I shouldn’t jave been surprise because I’d already talked to these ladies via e-mail. But it was a nice surprise to finally meet them. Lori and Jane came out just to thank and meet me. We took a quick photo (coming soon) before they had to take off. When I got home, there was already an e-mail from Jane with the photo and a quick, but sentimental note. Thank you for coming out, Jane and Lori.


After dinner we headed back to Becky’s place where I spent more time working on here. One thing I just realized that I forgot to mention from a few days ago was the generosity and incredible dedication of the guys at Farr Automotive in Welland. The labour was completely free and the parts were all donated from Yonge Automotive. My dad can’t stop talking about how well the van runs now. Thank you Greg Farr and Staff. And Thank you Yonge Automotive.



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