Sunday, May 27, 2012

Days 271, 272, and 273 White Rock to Richmond to Vancouver, B.C,

Day 271 This day is especially special!?? Not only is the third to last day, but this is the day (day 271) of the 25th anniversary Rick Hansen Relay we used when we had our test event last July! Kayla and I were back together again as driver and host. Our first meeting point of the day was at the Delta (population about 100,000) city hall.

briefed and ready, 10 more difference makers, getting closer to to 7,000!

our pilot Natalie waits with at the insertion point with the first medal bearer in our group, Kiana

and here come the convoy!
some family support for one of the medal bearers on this pedestrian bridge.

crossing into Ladner, which is part of the municipality of Delta

only 4 left as we head into our sponsor stop at "ba da da da da".....

McDonalds. Here is Danielle, who was nominated by the restaurant as their difference maker.
and here comes the entourage for Carlene, another McDonald's nominee. Here is her story:

Rick's Man in Motion tour was particularly significant to me. At the time Rick was on his journey my father suffered a major stroke. He spent

months in the hospital and together we watched Rick's tour. My Dad was so impressed with Rick's dedication and ambition as Rick inspired him

to work hard toward recovery. When my Dad was finally transferred to GF Strong and Rick's tour had concluded - Rick made a visit to GF

Strong shaking everyone's hand and inspiring them to continue to work hard toward recovery. My Dad did recover to the point of being able to

walk with 2 canes.

I do believe in giving back to our community and help others to achieve more. My involvement has been mainly with youth as youth are our

future and that we need to help to see that they develop an active and healthy lifestyle.

Some of what I have done:

• Delta Gymnastics - where I have coached and administrated building the organization from 30 gymnasts to over 4,000 participants.

• Gymnastics BC Board of Directors - about 15 years and a Zone 4 Director of 20 years

• Chair, Delta Spirit of BC Community Committee - 7 years

o Raising the enthusiasm for the 2010 Olympics through a great many community events.

• Founding member of the Delta Sport Hall of Fame - 6 years

• Founding member of the Delta Sport Council

• Chair of Delta KidSport

• Chair of Operation Red Nose Delta / Richmond - a ‘safe drive’ program for Delta/ Richmond now celebrating its 10th year in Delta.

“Youth are our future – I believe in helping them to grow and develop into fine well rounded healthy young adults”

Ronald is the emcee for this brief 10 minute stop. We have seen about 5 different Ronalds across the country, but this particular one has been with us for a few months now.

Delta knows how to put on a show. The final medal bearer for Delta was led in by bagpipers. This was a 10 minute community stop, and Rick Hansen was not present, but the community made this one of the larger scale events we have had across the country.

interactive displays, pancake breakfast, entertainment, it was all here.
Jeremy chats with Delta's community nominee, Harkiran.

This courageous young lady (she recently lost her mother to cancer)  had poise and grace as she addressed the crowd. She is a leader at her school, and a community volunteer.

Kayla and I had to keep moving, our next medal bearer meeting point was in Steveston, at the community centre. Steveston is a fishing village that is part of the city of Richmond.

As we get closer to the end, we are starting to get a few noteables in our groups, including Stan Smyl, who is shown here. He was a real leader (and captain later on in his career) on the Vancouver Canucks where he played for 13 seasons.

remember, your only job today is to smile! (and the rain didn't dampen anyone's spirits today!)

and there goes Dal Richards, a Canadian big band legend.

There were quite a few times today we saw two insertion point stickers, one for today's medal bearers, and one from the test event we had back in July. (hope it didn't confuse anyone)

and a rare treat for the medal bearers today, Rick Hansen escorted all our difference makers as they made their way down the streets in Richmond towards our end of day celebration....
at the Richmond Olympic Oval, home of the speed skating events for the 2010 winter olympics.

A great crowd on hand despite the rain.

and here comes Rick Hansen with the end of day medal bearer, Vince Miel, who champions for many accessability initatives, and disabilitiy causes.

One of our endurance athletes, Tyrone (chatting with Jenn) has stopped by for a visit.

Rick Hansen was genuinely excited to be back in his hometown.

inspiring and encouraging once again!

keep dry Ronald, you do not want your make-up to run!

there was a lot of T.V. and media coverage.
one of our newer presentations showing medal bearer moments across the country.

the group picture taken to the tune of "anything is possible!" Day 271 is done, only two more to go!

Day 272, the biggest medal bearer day of the relay. (182) Also, Kayla and I had the honour of being the second earliest shuttle on the relay, having to leave the hotel at 5am, for a 6am meeting point. (we also have the honour of being the earliest shuttle, leaving the hotel in Toronto at 445am for a medal bearer meeting in Oshawa on day 74.) Our meeting point this morning was at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

and we did not tell the medal bearers we had a special visitor today... Rick Hansen came to the meeting to say hi to the medal bearers and thank them for their difference making!
The group photo. As usual everyone had an incredible story to tell. One of the noteables today was Stockwell Day, a well know Canadian politician.

For biographical info I can simply say that I was elected 9 times over 25 years in two provinces and at both the provincial and federal levels. I

was leader of Canada's Official Opposition and served in a variety of Cabinet positions.

One of the most memorable and inspirational moments in my political life was the day 25 years ago when I had just started my own political

'tour' and Rick Hansen rolled into my constituency on his 'tour'. I listened to the cheers and saw the admiring faces of thousands of people as

Rick wheeled up the ramp onto the stage. I realized in that moment that what grabs people by the heart strings and inspires them to never give

up is to see another human being showing courage,determination and hope regardless of the circumstances.

That enduring memory has helped to propel me forward at times when I didn't feel I could keep going. I am honoured to be asked by Rick

to be one small part of his giant ,world changing tour.

following the pilot vehicle, we were basically the only ones out there, it was still 7 a.m.!

and in the side mirror, I can see the relay motorhome keeping pace.

Josh is having a having a harder time peeling off the relay insertion point stickers after all the rain.

Steph is in as one of our medal bearer bike escorts today.
Kayla and I have been working together for 272 days, and we are starting to know each other too well and sometimes we nitpick each other a little (noun ;
a carping, petty criticism.) So we had to laugh when medal bearer number 15, Suzanne, asked us how long we had been married!

Our second meeting point of the day was at the UBC (university of B.C.) aquatic centre.

as we arrived, one medal bearer group was just finishing. The group included a buddy of mine, Pat Bell. He was a cameraman on the Olympic Torch relay, riding in the media motorhome with me across the country for 106 days in 2009/2010. He shot footage on the original man in motion world tour 25 years ago. He also is a cameraman for CBC television and does a lot of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.

We had another incredible group, with a few noteables as well, Like MB102, Judy, who worked for the Rick Hansen Foundation for 10 years, MB 105, Dan, who is with Canpar, and was instrumental in making sure the relay received all of the shipments of supplies and medal bearer uniforms along the way, MB107 Duane, who is the executive director of the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation , MB109, John

In short, John is a paraplegic that hand-cycled across Canada in 1999 to raise funds for spinal cord research. We raised over 1 million dollars

on the “John Ryan Regeneration Tour” and then raised more in subsequent years with the “Reserved” Fund Raising Dinners in Whistler. Rick

and his team helped to combine what we raised to set up the “John and Penny Ryan BC Leadership Chair for Spinal Cord Research” at UBC.,
and MB110, Jack, who is only 13 years old, who had a heart transplant at 6 months old, and recently spoke to 300 medical students at UBC about his condition, MB112, Jim, who has an incredible story himself:

Jim Milina has a habit of turning mountains into molehills. Whether it's climbing Kilimanjaro or fathering children in spite of a high-level spinal

cord injury, he's made it his mission to overcome any and all obstacles life throws in his way. And he's done it with the two most crucial tools

that any person with a spinal cord injury can possess: courage and determination. Jim injured his spinal cord competing at a freestyle skiing

competition over twenty years ago. Jim became the first quadriplegic to scale Kilimanjaro in 2002. An amazing feat and one, he’s the first to

admit, that was much more dangerous and difficult than he or anyone else on his team ever anticipated. He had to place his faith and his life in

the hands of others. But they made it, and Jim says he's a better man for it. "The ascent of a mountain is really a metaphor for our struggle

against whatever barriers exist for us in our lives," Jim says. “The battle is not always easy, but it's definitely one worth fighting.” He still

possesses the drive that led him to conquer Kilimanjaro. These days, it’s focused on spreading the word about the abilities of people with spinal

cord injuries—and encouraging people of all abilities to reach for their dreams, and that you don't need to climb mountains to reach great

heights. Jim's favorite moment as a Rick Hansen Foundation Ambassador happened during a speech in Cranbrook in 2004. He was talking about

research funded by the Rick Hansen Foundation, and remarked on the great strides that have been made in reproductive technologies in

particular. Thanks to that type of research, Jim told the crowd, he was the proud father of a little girl (he has since fathered a son as well). The

audience gave him a standing ovation. He was deeply moved by the caring and empathy his listeners showed and thrilled that they clearly

understood the importance of research to improving the quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries.
and MB111, Ashley, who is a paraplegic and so badly wanted to be part of the 25th anniversary relay, she came up from California :
She is a participant invite from California. She came to Vancouver for a wheelchair access guide for her website, saw the Relay poster's and

really wanted to be a part of it.

Ashley is the founder of, a website with information about accessible destinations around the world.

Sylvie (from the participant operations team from the head office that was out on the road helping us on our busy days) filled in as host while Kayla briefed the next group of medal bearers. Beside her is Pat Carney, a well known politician from B.C. who was also a Canadian senator for 18 years.

a little different today, I dropped off one group of difference makers at their insertion points, then I had to hightail it back to the aquatic centre to pick-up another group of medal bearers. Maya is seen here on the left. This little girl came up to me and Kayla and gave us each a bracelet she had mader herself. They were called "Hope Ropes". I was moved by her story and here it is:

The story of Hope...

In 2007, when I was 6, my grandpa was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It made me very sad and it made my family very sad too. I wanted to

do something to raise money to help find a cure for cancer. I wanted to help my grandpa. My mom kept telling me that we must always have

HOPE when someone is fighting cancer and that without HOPE the fight would be even more difficult. I decided that I would create and make

bracelets with the word HOPE in them to always remind my family and my grandpa to stay strong and have HOPE. I called my bracelets HOPE

ROPE because I hoped one day we would find a cure for cancer.

Since the start of HOPE ROPES, we have donated $15,000 to a variety of causes, such as the Canadian Cancer Society, Nanoose Community

Services, many local community organizations and international projects such as Mayan Families Canada. I am so excited to be raising money

now for the Rick Hansen Foundation. Rick Hansen is a true Canadian hero who has worked endlessly to help people with disabilities and help

create a more inclusive world. I am very honoured to be able to help and support such an amazing Canadian through the sale of my HOPE

ROPES. I believe that my HOPE ROPES are for everyone and anyone who needs HOPE in our world. That is just about everyone, I think.

When you wear a HOPE ROPE I want you to remember my saying, “when times get tough, HOPE whispers hang on”. You can always look

down at your HOPE ROPE and know that you will always carry HOPE with you no matter where you go.


                                                                                                                                                                        This group had many noteables as well including MB117, Jim Taylor, here is his story:

Former sports columnist, current author (15 books and counting). Wrote Man in Motion with Rick (omigod! 25 years ago!) Traveled with him on

sections of the tour, including most of the cross-Canada section.

There goes Jim out into the rain.

We were heading into some busy traffic areas of Vancouver, like Broadway Ave, but not to worry we had a large police escort today to make sure everyone stayed safe.
Josh and the rest of our pilots and escorts are more than happy to take pictures for the medal bearers and their friends and families.

hard to get used to seeing police behind you and not stopping!

Steph waits with Maya until the convoy arrives.

our end of day celebration for day 272 was at the P.N.E. (Pacific National Exhibition) grounds. CTV was on hand to cover the event.

The end of day celebration featured a lot of entertainment, including this up and coming band ( I had to look them up!)
The stage was impressive, and so was the bank, actually.

This had the potential to be a huge event, but the rain kept a lot of people away.

our emcee Jordan on the Jumbo Tron.

definately the biggest banner we have seen on the relay.
Rick Hansen was on stage with the end of day medal bearer, Terry

In a surprise announcement, Jerry Chenkin (executive vice-president of Honda Canada) donates the two wheelchair accessible Honda Odysseys we have used on the entire relay to the Rick Hansen Foundation. Bravo!

There was a feeling of comradery amongst the relay team as it started to sink in that we only had one more day to go! Jeremy, Kyle, and Kenn are all smiles!

a random group shot (front row left to right: Kenn, Jeremy, Natalie, Sylvie, and Erin. Top row: Sam, Argie, Don, Scott, and Ty) The emotions were really starting to show,! ( I had to go find my sunglasses!)
On stage, Rick congratulates Otto, our relay operations director.

some more medal bearer moments on the big screen

OMG!, we were fortunate enough to have the Canadian Tenors here to sing the national anthem.

The day 272 group shot (how did Ronald McDonald sneak in there?)
More random relay group shots.

it's really starting to hit home that this close knit family for the past 9 months will soon move on. 

Dawn, with Sony (our first endurance athlete that started with us on day 1 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland), and Marika

Tyrone and Erin
meanwhile on stage, another group of outstanding young musicians. (cannot find their name)

Jordan posing backstage.

after Rick signed autographs and took pictures with the crowd and the medal bearers, he had a couple of minutes to pose with some of the relay crew. Here he is with Jake and his wife Lynn, who has joined us for the final few day of the relay.

random shot ( I had no idea this pond was here, in the middle of the exhibition grounds)
day 272 is over, the 25th anniversary Rick Hansen medal has been retired, time to head back to our hotel in Richmond. Hastings Street will take us through downtown Vancouver.

my first time going through downtown Vancouver in over 9 months!

Well, day 273. This day had kind of snuck up on me. 25 years ago to the day, Rick Hansen ended his 2 year 2 month and 1 day journey around the world. We will start day 273 at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in Vancouver.
The Blusson Spinal Cord Centre is a unique facility dedicated to advancing world-leading integrated research and care for people with spinal cord injury. By combining research and clinical space in the same building, investigators will be able to rapidly translate discoveries into validated clinical practices to ensure effective outcomes are achieved. The Blusson Spinal Cord Centre is home to ICORD, the outpatient and research clinics of Vancouver Coastal Health’s Spine and Spinal Programs, and the Rick Hansen Institute offices.

My last day on the relay, I am driving shuttle 3, with Jake as the medal bearer host. As we arrived, the first medal bearer group briefing was just concluding with their own group shot.

You know, we have had a lot of great difference makers in our journey across Canada, and this one was no different (it was a special group, being our last one of the relay)
We had Sam, our rock back at the office while we were all on the road. He sent out the medal bearer information every day that kept us all so informed. (and the jokes and cartoons that I borrowed for the blog now and again)

Outside our meeting room, Rick Hansen was on hand for a special presentation:
Blusson Spinal Cord Centre – 9:27am (818 10th Ave West, Vancouver, BC) - Hosted by the Rick Hansen Institute, ICORD, Vancouver Coastal Health, VCH Spine Clinic, this community-focused event will bring together health care providers, partners and patients.

One more time to teach the medal bearers the 25th anniversary warm-up dance (of course to the tune of Katy Perry's "Firework")

even I had to get in the picture, after all this is Jake and mine's last group. A lot of noteables again today including Terry David Mulligan (t.v. and radio personality who interviewed Rick Hansen by phone once a week while he was on his original tour), Jerry Chenkin (exec vice president of Honda Canada), too many to put in this blog, all inspirational. One more, Colleen: here is her story

At 10 weeks old I was diagnosed with my first brain tumor. Throughout most of my childhood I was in and out of the hospital because of my

cancer or because of my sister's identical brain tumor. Growing up I spent a lot of time at BC Children's Hospital and am eternally grateful for

the care that myself and my family received from the doctors, nurses and support staff that worked there. Every year my family and I have

participated in the BC Child Run and have participated in and/or volunteered at the Balding for Dollars event. I have been involved with the

Childhood Cancer Survivors Society of BC for a number of years now as well. I have volunteered for numerous activities and with the board,

including selling popcorn at Children's Hospital in support of Children's Oncology unit and participating at BC Children's Hospital Miracle

Weekend telethon. After taking a break for a short time during my first pregnancy I returned to volunteering with my daughter in tow, now

being pregnant with my second child I am once again taking a break but plan to return to volunteering with both of my children. Both

pregnancies have been high risk due to my shunt, which is why a break was necessary. I am looking forward to being able to bring my children

to volunteer and participate at the events, and to meet the doctors and nurses that still work at BC Children's Hospital.

the last time the medal bearers will watch videos of the original man in motion tour, as well as footage from the 25th anniversary relay.
Wai-yee waits for her moment to carry the Rick Hansen mdal. She works with McDonalds and has worked with the relay across the country.  

with the traffic, we had to keep farther ahead of the convoy

I tried to get a shot of Silken Laumann (on left) as she got off of the bus. Her story is remarkable:

Silken Laumann’s life centers around the fulfillment of human potential. Whether in the

world of sport, where she achieved the honor of being the fastest female rower in the

world, her work as a child advocate, as a speaker, a writer, or a life coach, Silken has

made her work reaching her own potential and helping others reach theirs.

Silken’s Olympic story is legendary and inspirational. As reigning world champion, Silken

fought back from a devastating rowing accident, to win a bronze medal in the 1992

Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Her stunning 10 week recovery and her courage in the

face of almost insurmountable obstacles endeared her in the hearts of Canadians.

Silken’s life outside of sport is equally inspiring. Her ability to dream, to embrace change,

and work through obstacles have helped her create a magical life. Silken understands

the incredible power of the mind and helps her audiences shift their thinking and unlock

the positive power of the conscious and unconscious mind. Working through the loss of a

business, learning to parent her profoundly autistic step-daughter, and balancing a

fulfilling career with a vibrant family life, these challenges have tested what it means to

approach each day with energy and optimism while continuing to dream big.

Inspiring, funny, thought provoking and always down to earth, Silken Laumann opens her

heart and leaves her audience ready to unlock their own potential and aspire to their

own greatness.

“We are still feeling the effect of your inspirational speech.” …Cindy

“Your Speech was World Class.” …Starbucks

“We are never as alone as we think, as we hear about your struggles, accomplishments,

dreams and unsinkable spirit” …Michael Smith

Silken has used her notoriety to raise money and awareness for a variety of causes and

initiatives. She serves on the Board of Right To Play, an organization that brings sport and

play to the most disadvantaged children in the world. Silken is an advocate for healthy

active kids, and works with GoodLife Kids Foundation as their Kids Champion to advance

these opportunities. She is also active in raising issues related to mental health, and a

regular contributor to Huffington Post and Motivated Magazine.

Silken lives in Victoria with her two children, William and Kate, her partner David Patchell-

Evans, and her step daughters Kilee and Tygre.

wow, I am about to finish my second relay!
and then there was Audrey, a first nations elder who carried an eagle feather, dedicating her segment to her son, Frank, a quadriplegic who passed away 3 years ago.

crossing the Burrard Street Bridge into Vancouver......

and the last medal bearer for Jake and myself, Brent. He actually entered and won a contest to have a spot in the relay.

after we dropped Brent off, we headed to the final end of day celebration at the Terry Fox memorial plaza outside of B.C. place stadium.
wow, it was quite a sight when we first got there. schools kids from all around the fraser valley were bussed in for the event.

CTV and numerous other t.v. and media were on hand for the finale.

First there was a celebration at Robson Square with the members of the original man in motion tour . Then, it was a sea of medal bearers and supporters coming down Robson street toward the end of day celebration. What a sight!

 here they come!, lead by Rick Hansen and the end of day medal bearer, Amanda. Here is her story: (she was  chosen as the representative of what this relay is all about)

With determination, courage, leadership and teamwork i am ever changing my community of St.Albert. My name is amanda Magyar and i am 17

years old. I started a Birthday Bags for Kids n' Need campaign and teamed up with Suzan at my local foodbank and in St.Albert collected 800

birthday bags for kids who dont get birthdays because of the financial situation they are in will receive a birthday. A few other projects i have

done is i am a pathfinder leader/mentor as well as a lone ranger and i help girls my age, older and younger then me all about how to camp, self

esteem, self determination and how to continue on making a difference in the community. I have been involved with guiding for 11 years. A few

other projects i have on the go is i am very involved with my high school with a radio station every tuesday at lunch, i help run an

environmental group and within that are doing tonnes of projects like clean up the river, arbour day etc..., i have done the MS bike tour, breast

cancer walk almost every year, on thursdays me and some friends lead a drama group called theatreific! and i donate blood evrey 56 days. In

the future i plan on helping wit hhabitat for humanity, more with the food bank and helping jr.high girls wit hself esteem. My life with

volunteering on ongoing and i will keep doing it for the rest of my life.

so exciting!

there were so many people, the procession carried on for close to 10 minutes.
a little hard to see what was going on, thank goodness for the big screen t.v.

and here comes our final endurance athlete of the 25th anniversary Rick Hansen relay, Ramesh Ferris

a message from our relay director, Jamie
ahhhhh, the Downeys, Marilyn and Pat ( they are part of the relay family, but they are not related!)

many thanks to all of the police that have helped us out along our journey across the country

the man in motion himself.

and fitting that Rick Hansen is the last person to wear the 25th anniversary medal.
Rick thanks Jamie for all his hard work and leadership.

after the celebration was over, it was time for a group shot. What a team!

These guys have proven that anything is possible! left to right, endurance athletes Tyrone, Joey, and Ramesh, with our medal bearer host Jake, Marika, and another endurance athlete, Sonny.
and then it was over....... (sets in as I look back in the mirror and see our events truck (aka "little bird") loading up for the last time.)

driving back to the hotel by myself, I need a little Pink Floyd on the radio, (maybe comfortably numb?)

Vancouver traffic as usual

back at the hotel, it was time for a driver team shot. We all left for Halifax on August 14, 2011 to pick up the oversize vehicles and drive them to St. John's, Newfoundland in preparation for the relay. Left to right, Moi, Wendy, Hank, Jeremy, Don (transpo manager). Dawn, and Pat.
Day 273, night. We took a shuttle to Celebration 25 at the Pacific Coliseum (the old home of the Vancouver Canucks and new home of the Western Hockey League Vancouver Giants) Honestly, this is the first time I have seen some of the videos we show the medal bearers, I am always driving and I certainly know all the words by heart!

Jake, with Blaine (Marilyn's hubby), Wendy, Jeremy, and Hank

I used to come and watch a lot of Canucks games here many moons ago!

OMG, it's cut-out Rick! I haven't high-fived him since St. John's!
Erin's turn!

This was going to be one memorable show! (they actually filmed it to show on CTV on June 24.)

everything was first class!
there were many performances tonight, all of the musical acts did two songs each, this is a group called "one more girl"

after that it was the headline performer,...............

Sarah McLachlan

there were a lot of presentations about Rick Hansen and about the 25th anniversary relay
The Canadian Tenors wowed!

 Award winning guitarist Don Alder (longtime friend who was with Rick Hansen when he had his accident), and Shane Koyczan .

David Suzuki was a special guest.

and Josh Dueck was on hand. (Josh was the end of day medal bearer in Vernon, B.C. on day 222)(first person to do a back flip in a sit-ski)
and Johnny Reid

it doesn't stop, next up was Jann Arden

Jann Arden
the technical crew were working hard

there were a lot of medal bearers in the audience (they wore their jackets), and as I looked around, I spyed a medal bearer sticker way down near the front on the back of a wheelchair!

I have never heard of Marianas Trench, but I did recognize both of their songs. (these guys were good!)

the iconic David Foster ( the man behind the man in motion song (St. Elmo's Fire))
as I blog this, I realize how incredible it was to put this many talents together for one night (and it would not have happened if Rick had not touched them all in one way or another!)

and then it is time for the man in motion himself..........

Rick Hansen

one inspires many, wow, the slogan on all of the relay staff uniform shirts!

It was an emotional day, not sure if Hank was crying on the way home or it was just because I kept flashing my camera in everyone's faces on the way home! This is not the end to the blog, I will have an epilogue episode from our final brunch together! 141 blogs overall, good-night!

1 comment:

  1. WHEW! You did it! Congratulations! I loved following along from Winnipeg, on.

    I was at the concert too. I can't wait to see it on TV because I want to hear Shane Koyczan's poem again. He was incredible, as always. Thanks to Rick, I have purchased & downloaded both of Don's albums. I'm a sucker for strings! I've been listening to them non-stop for the last 5 days!