Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 107 and 108 Aurora to Barrie, Ontario

Day 107, a little chilly, -2 and a light dusting of the white stuff. The sun is shining, though.

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Newmarket, where our hotel was. The relay start today was in Aurora, but I was on events today and headed out towards Barrie.

After over a month in Ontario, we are finally starting to head north.

A last look at the huge suberbs in the Newmarket area, a lot of the people here commute to Toronto

Right beside the suburbs is this little piece of farmland, but for how long?

Onto Highway 400, the King's highway

Coming into Barrie

First, a stop at the local Hino dealership to get "little bird", the event truck, serviced.

After getting the truck serviced, it was off to downtown Barrie to check out the sight of  the end of day celebration at city hall.

Barrie, approx. 130,000 is on the western shore of Lake Simcoe.
Back at the hotel, Kyle and Steph in the restaurant catching up on some work.

Back to the end of day site.

Once again Natalie has done a masterful job of setting up our merchandise table.

Outside side city hall they had this cool little circular skating rink

Kayla impressing us with her parallel parking

The end of day celebration included these school kids serenading us with Christmas carols

The spirit of Barrie captured in this knitted picture

A great turnout tonight

These local heroes were part of the Team Canada sledge hockey team that just won gold at the 2011 World sledge hockey challenge in Calgary, Alberta

Jeremy chats with Barrie's end of day difference maker, Heather. Here is her story:

Heather has been a pillar in the spinal cord injury in the Barrie area for more than 27 years. In fact she

was instrumental in having Rick Hansen come through Barrie 25 years ago on his original Man in Motion Tour (I believe there is TV footage of

her from that time). Heather has been described to me by one of her colleagues as the “life jacket in the murky waters of spinal cord injury” in

Ontario, as she has been known to be involved with individuals who’ve been injured from their initial stay in acute care, through their

rehabilitation services, their transition to their home communities, and beyond. Heather was key in establishing spinal cord injury services,

education, awareness and advocacy in Central Ontario as she saw a need for individuals to be able to be supported outside of Toronto in the

communities of their choice, and as such she helped to open the Barrie Office for the Canadian Paraplegic Association. Many individuals who

have been touched or helped by Heather’s kindness, tenacity, and support have contacted me to share how much she has shaped and

influenced their lives over the last 27 years. I have heard from individuals who were injured 25 + years ago, individuals who were injured

recently, and caregiver’s of persons with spinal cord injuries, and the positive impact that Heather has had within the City of Barrie and various

communities in the region that she serves through her work with CPA. It is therefore our absolute pleasure to nominate Heather Hollingshead

to be the City of Barrie Difference Maker/Medal Bearer for the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Celebration Tour.

I wish I brought my skates!

Later that  evening we had a little Christmas relay staff party at the restaurant in the hotel. I didn't know we were supposed to get dressed up! Apparently Jeremy and Jordan found this dinner attire at a Mennonite thrift store. Don't  they look sharp!

What would Christmas dinner be without the paper crackers that have those goofy hats in them.

There was a secret santa present exchange. The rules made it for a free for all. If you didn't like your present you could steal someone elses, (up to 3 times), the best presents were getting pillaged often, it was a lot of fun.

I have no idea what I was trying to do when I took this one, but I like it.  

Day 108 was an event day. While some of the staff were off doing school presentations, a lucky few of us went to the Canadian Forces base in Borden. It is also home to the Military Police Academy.
I saw this poster on the wall about a program I have heard a lot about from various medal bearers. It is called Soldier On.

 Vision: To be a world class leader, recognized for improving the quality of life of ill and injured military personnel and their families, and the defence community as a whole by inspiring them to adopt an active lifestyle.

They were showing off one of their new military vehicles today.

They chose three of their own to be medal bearers today. Unfortunately I do not  have any of their stories. Jake was on had today to provide support and to brief the medal bearers.

Another relay first. This armored military vehicle was part of our medal bearer convoy today. Try looking at that in your rearview mirror!

We used the command vehicle as a pace vehicle today, which means I was in front of the medal bearers regulating their pace. They had a contingent of runners with them, so it was a good pace. There had to be 50 to 75 people following along.

The three difference makers went together, each one doing almost a kilometre with the medal on. Here was one of their exchange points outside of the CFB Borden headquarters
From my side mirror I could see the medal bearer giving high fives along the route

It was moving to see all of the soldiers along the route in support of medal bearers and in support of the Rick Hansen relay. My estimate was about 500 lining the streets of the base.

Back at our celebration site, the soldiers salute during the singing of O Canada.
Some words from the commander Colonel J.P.L. Meloche

Jake talks a little about his life after his accident, and about the relay.

I was honored to be part of this event.

Thanks to the community at CFB Borden for their support of the Rick Hansen relay. Next stop : Orillia, heading north!

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