Friday, January 13, 2012

Days 141 and 142 Kakabeka Falls to Ignace to Dryden, Ontario

I saw this sign, seemed like an apropos time to take a pic

Day 141, time to leave our hotel and Thunder Bay after 4 nights

Good-bye to the Athletic Club, which we were given free passes to by our hotel. A great place to work-out, it was first class. I will always remember my first (and probably last) Zumba class!

During school days, most of our start of day celebrations are at various schools. This is part of our school program, and has been a huge success. Day141 was where our end of day celebration was on day 140

Kayla and I had our first meeting point at the school. This was a more casual briefing, we had 3 medal bearers, Natalie in the center flanked by her daughter Maryann, on the left and her son, John, on the right. Maryann ran in Thunder Bay the day before, and she had a chance to run again, due to one of the medal bearers not being able to make it. All three were at our briefing the day before, so we spent our time getting to know each other, and by having various members of our relay team coming in and talking about their duties on the relay. Here our endurance athlete Joey had dropped in to tell his story.

A little cold today, let's make sure we are warmed up for the day, not hamming it up for the camera!
A far cry from the summer days of Atlantic Canada.

How cool for this family to be able to run together, which they did, passing the Rick Hansen medal to each other every 250 meters.

Our work in Kakabeka Falls is done, time to head off down the highway towards Ignace and our next meeting point.

The roads were a little slick on our 217 km trip, definately the toughest we have faced on the relay to date.

Could this be the Northern Ontario winter we were told so much about?
It did clear up a bit, apparently we were about 24 hours behind the big storm, which closed the highway west of Dryden because of a serious accident

Heading down into Ignace, a town of about 1500 people

We had a little time before our meeting point, so we checked in at our cozy little home for the night, the North Woods Inn.

It did have a restaurant, and if you ever pass by, I recommend the shepard's pie!

here it comes! brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
long range: Monty will bundling up!

This is not the same view as we had out of our hotel in Toronto!

The vehicles are definately starting to ice up

Our medal bearer meeting point was at the Ignace arena, also the home of the day 141 end of day celebration.

How can you argue with that?
Another relay first, our meeting point was in a hockey dressing room, which was okay for me and Kayla, we both play hockey, made me feel right at home!

The difference makers give the thumbs up that they are ready for the cold. (I do not know how Kyle managed to sneak in there)

Hard to tell in this picture, but the snowflakes were starting to fly. It was cold, but everyone enjoyed the Canadian winter atmosphere, something we have not really faced on the relay so far.

One of our pilots, Josh ( I consider him the coolest man on the relay), talks with Gary, a retired conservation officer, as he waits to start his segment.

Here comes the convoy!

The picture tells the story
Josh gets a little side-tracked as he tries to catch snowflakes with his tongue.

A little close for comfort, considering I am looking out my driver's door.

Now I know where the saying comes from, here is Iggy the otter confirming the fact we otter be in Ignace. That deserves a kiss!

As usual, the smaller communites go all out and we had a great turn-out in support of the relay. Refreshments, hamburgers, veggie trays, and cake were also provided by the town

Kenn, Kayla, Deena, and Ty were all excited to get a shot with the town mascot Iggie the Otter.
So were Josh, and Barn (funny thing, about the same time Iggy appeared, one of our medal bearer hosts, Kyle, disappeared.) huh

There was a lounge area at our hotel that had a big fireplace, a nice place to relax after the conclusion to day 141

Day 142, first thing I do these days is check the weather channel to see what I am in for today, minus 15, bring it on!

Our start of day and the medal bearer meeting point was at the Ignace public school. First thing I noticed was this Terry Fox poster. A true Canadian icon, and he was a friend of Rick Hansen, two incredible and inspirational Canadians.

For myself, it is good to see these types of posters up in the school hallways. Hopefully it makes people think, it works for me.

The future. These medal bearers were all students, and they all shared their stories (with a little prodding from Kayla and I) on how they make a difference at their schools and their communities, very deserving indeed.
I am big on the anti-bullying campaign.

Like I mentioned before, the school program has been a real highlight of the relay. The kids are genuinely interested in Rick Hansen's story and the vision for the future.

The 6 student medal bearers all walked together in unison, passing the medal to each other.

It was cold enough today to provide the bike escorts Marilyn and Kenn enough traction to keep them pedalling.

After we have finished the relay in a community, the final medal bearer will pass the medal to our endurance athlete (Joey). At that point, either he will either do a segment on his hand cycle, (he various lengths at any given time from 500 meters to 10 or more kilometers, depending on what was pre-determined), or we will go in carrier mode, where he ride in the command vehicle to our next town or destination.
It was cold today, so we picked up our student medal bearers and gave them a ride back to the school

The roads were a little better today as Kayla and I made our way to our 2nd medal bearer meeting point in Dryden, Ontario, population about 8500

Our meeting point was also the end of day celebration site at the Dryden Recreational Training and Cultural Centre

Our meeting was in the auditorium in the seats, everyone get comfortable!

Every once in awhile, we run out of time at our meetings (usually between 1 and 1 and a half hours) so we have to ad-lib. So today we took our warm-up dance (choreographed to  Katy Perry's Firework song) into the bus, where the medal-bearers danced as I drove to our insertion point (where we drop the first medal bearer)
Cindy, beaming and proud with her family. Her is her story:

My contribution to making a difference in my community has been through the annual Dryden Dragonboat Festival. The Kinsmen of Dryden

began the annual race through the vision of one of their own, Alvin Saville, whose daughter had cancer. My husband was the President of the

Kinsmen and, since my best friend was also battling cancer, I felt it was important to participate in the event. For the past six years I have

organized teams at work, encouraged others to help out, have paddled in the races, helped set up and worked at the events - all for a great

cause - "The Still Me Program". This is a program that supports individuals going through cancer treatments to look and feel their best. This

cause is very close to my heart as I believe it truly helps people maintain confidence while battling cancer. Working at the MNR, I am proud to

say we entered one team the first year, two teams every year after and last year we entered three teams to fundraise and paddle! I am very

proud to be a small part of ensuring that "The Still Me Program" continues in our community. I also believe that the camaraderie that has

resulted from the participants on our MNR teams has lead to the motivation year-after-year to continue to be apart of something good!

A show of solidarity as the medal bearers waited together with the final medal bearer of the day, Mark, until the cue to head inside the  cultural center for the end of day celebration.

Another stunning facility, very unique design.

Speeches from the dignitaries, as our End of Day medal bearer Mark looks on. Here is his story:

I was Paralyzed in a Industrial fall at the Paper mill in Dryden in 1977. I was 20 years old and had to find a new profession I went to U of M in Winnipeg for a better education was tough going to school, but when I started playing W/C Basketball a sport that I would enjoy for my next 20 plus years. I found employment with the Canadian Paraplegic Assoc. in Winnipeg I worked as a Peer support, Case Manager and Barrier Free Consultant with them till the year 2000. That is when I moved back to Dryden to enjoy the lifestyle of country life. Boating and Fishing in the summer and Snowmobiling and Curling in the Winter months. But by having all the experience as a Barrier Free Consultant I have been able to sit on many many Board of Directors and Committees trying to help a community become more accessible to all people of different abilities. Convincing a group that spending there resources on Access issues is not easy as they do not know the real number of people they are assisting by making modifications to there plans. I am hoping that a consistent voice in the community will make life easier for all in need of better access to our community.Thanks!
On display were pictures from the original man in motion tour as it went through Dryden 25 years ago.

Minus 22 tonight, time to plug in the vehicles.

Dreaming of springtime in B.C., but until then.......................

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