Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 138 and 139 from the Terry Fox Monument to Thunder Bay, Ontario

After a two week break it was back to the relay action. Day 138 started where we finished on Day 121,  the Terry Fox Monument just east of Thunder Bay. Considering where we are and what time of year it is, the weather is still with us.

Our security and safety manager Mike with his niece who is from the area. She joined us on the pace motorhome for the day.

and look who is back! Joey has rejoined us as our endurance athlete until we get to Winnipeg. Joey was with us for a big segment of the relay in Quebec.

Heading down to the Terry Fox monument  for a few photo ops.

There is a real insprirational, almost spirtual feeling that comes across a person when you are at the monument.
Jamie, our race director does another interview, this time for the local T.V. station. The 25th anniversary Rick Hansen relay was the lead story on the 11 o'clock news tonight.

Joey says a few words about his story, as the 3 medal bearers that will carry the medal from the monument look on.

Going down the hill from the monument to highway 17, the last medal bearer in the group rode his BMX bike carrying the medal. This is one of our EMT modes, or extraordinary mode of transport.

Yeah, our first Ronald sighting of 2012! This is the same Ronald that has been with us in all of Ontario. McDonalds is one of our biggest sponsors. Medal bearer Adena was nominated by McDonald's.

My job today was escort 3, who is the medal bearer escort who walks, or runs with the medal bearers when they do their segment. I have done this a couple of times, and it is quite an honor to walk alongside these difference makers. It is amazing how much you learn about someone is less than 3 or 4 minutes time. and it can be quite emotional. These people are so proud and excited, and more than once it has effected me. (big boys don't cry?)
Cassandra here, on the left was one of those people. It was quite moving  when she passed the medal to her mother, on the right. Here is her story:
I'm a brain surgery survivor for Chiari Malformation, a little known, but widely affecting condition where the brain is too large for the space in

the skull. The brain is often compressed by the skull and extends into the spinal cord. Before and since surgery I have by trying to raise

awareness about Chiari Malformation by educating friends and family and anyone else who will listen. Local media is reluctant to take on "public

interest health issue" stories. Awareness is needed for the debilitating condition which causes massive headaches, trouble thinking, speaking

and seeing, numbness in arms and legs, just to name a few. Surgery is not a cure for the condition, but can help alleviate most symptoms in

80% of patients. Some patients are worse after surgery or even need further surgeries. Awareness is need for this condition in Canada. In the

US there are charitable organizations and even a national walk every September to raise awareness and funding for research. There is nothing

in Canada except support groups on websites like Facebook and Yahoo. Approximately 1 in 10,000 people have this condition, with many going

undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. Chiari Malformation is more prominent than cervical cancer and multiple sclerosis, but most people

have never heard of it. Thank you.

Our next sponsor stop was at the local Honda dealership.....

The owners of the dealership were also medal bearers today. They were kind enough to store all of our fleet vehicles during our two week break, and even washed and serviced them. This dealership has been a part of Thunder Bay since 1963 when they started with motorcycles, until the first  Honda cars started to appear in the 1970's

Our end of day celebration was at the Thunder Bay auditorium. Apparently the event was advertised, but the turn-out was kind of disappointing.

The medal bearers and their friends and families make it all worth it, though. The end of day medal bearer was Andrea, and here is her story:

As a child, I remember dreaming about what it would be like to be a champion at something, but not really thinking that one day that dream would come true. In 2000, when I won my first Paralympic medal, I felt as though I had conquered all of the doubts that I ever had about my abilities. At the time, it wasn’t winning a medal that gave me strength, but rather, the knowledge that no dream was out of reach for me. Competitive swimming has taught me to embrace challenges knowing that my best will be good enough no matter what the outcome. To me, perseverance means always striving for my best and being rewarded by my own hard work. I have learned that to be a leader, I don’t have to be the most popular person or the person that everyone listens to.
When I retired from swimming in 2009, I was finally able to return home and give back to the community of Thunder Bay. Having been an athlete with mild cerebral palsy, I know how important it is to help foster opportunities for everyone to participate in sport. For me, having the option to join a sports club specifically for athletes with physical disabilities made getting involved much less intimidating. Sadly, the sports club that gave me my start as a swimmer, Superior Athletics, no longer exists in Thunder Bay. I am hopeful that when I have completed my graduate studies at Lakehead University, that I will be in an even better position to promote sport and physical education for people with disabilities. One of the ways that I am already helping to make a difference is by volunteering as a head coach for Special Olympics Thunder Bay. The Killer Whales Swim Club has 30-35 swimmers with intellectual disabilities, ranging in age from children to adults. It has been exciting to see the club grow, and every volunteer that comes out to help makes a difference. I am excited to continue to motivate my swimmers and to teach them the skills and values that the need to know in order to reach their full potential. For me, this doesn’t necessarily mean being the best swimmer on the team. As a coach, I always try to teach values like dedication, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Working hard to be a good swimmer is important, but teaching athletes how to be great team mates is just as important. In addition to coaching, I also really enjoy the time that I work as a swim instructor for Learn to Swim. I have witnessed many children become strong and confident swimmers. Most importantly, I have taught them to be safe around the water.
I am very lucky to be able to coach and teach what I am passionate about and to make a difference in my community at the same time. I don’t think that you have to be the best swimmer or the most accomplished athlete to benefit from being physically active. Long before I was a Paralympic medalist, I was new to swimming and new to sport; I just wanted to be healthy. The experiences that I have had and the skills that I have learned as a student and as an athlete have make me a better coach, a better teacher, and a stronger person. I hope that my story inspires others to be themselves and follow their dreams.

Thunder Bay auditorium

Hank the workhorse, don't let a little foot injury slow your down!

Day 139 was supposed to be an event day, but it never materialized, so time for  me to sneak in a work-out at the Thunder Bay Athletic club, which is across the street from our hotel. The hotel gave us free passes.
A little outside of my comfort zone, but I got talked into trying a Zumba class at the gym. Very high tempo, a lot of choreographed moves I had trouble keeping up with. No trouble sweating, though. 32 women there today, and me, wooohoooo!

I survived Zumba 2012

That was enough for my joints, I nixed a suggestion to go to a Yoga class later.

But, like a glutton for punishment, was coaxed into going to a spin cycle class with Kenn, Josh, and Kayla. Yah, it was nap time after Monty's big adventure. That was one of the hardest work-outs I have done in a long time.

Later on, after my nap, a little more relaxing work-out, taking inventory of the gear and supplies in the shuttle busses.
Good Night!

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