Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Days 95, 96 and 97 , 2 days off and one event day in London, Ontario

The view from our hotel of downtown London. We had two days off, really did not get up to much. Time to recharge the batteries and catch up on the little things like paying bills and catching up on paperwork.

2 days off was not enough time to go to Miami, so I settled on taking my shuttle bus to the car wash.

These guys were great, not only did they wash it for me, they did not charge me either, as their donation to the relay.

Fuel stop at on of our sponsors, The best part of fuelling all these big vehicles is the aeoroplan points I receive with each fill-up.

Heading back to the hotel, this time the police were actually on police business, not on relay buisness.

the back of our hotel is this tower.
The front of our hotel is this old armoury, which includes the lobby, the restaurant, bar, and pool and fitness area. It was built in 1905 and was the home of the 1st Hussars

Saturday night we were treated to laser bowling. Josh and Monica donned their neon shirts for the occasion.

It was a lot of fun, and it was ten-pin, something a lot of the crew had not tried before.

In the end, the testosterone was flying and the men had to get into a little competition for bowling supremacy. ( I did win one game, but in the end no alpha male was declared tonight.) Many thanks to Scott's (participant operations) dad, who owns the alley in London,and provided the team with a much needed night out.

Sunday morning and I was off to a real exciting start. Marilyn (in charge of medal bearer escorts) and I took our young endurance athlete, Tyrone to the laundromat.

They billed themselves as the largest laundromat in Canada, I don't think so, but I doubt I will ever try and prove them wrong.  
If you have to wait for your clothes, you may as well settle in and play some cribbage. I am undefeated on this relay, (I have only played 4 games). Skittles also help pass the time.

Really starting to get boring, and this was the only channel available to watch!

Sunday night was Grey cup night. We all got together, had a beer, some snacks, and watched the B.C. Lions beat the Winnipeg Bluebombers 34-23

Monday morning was the start of an event day. A group of us went to Parkwood Hospital in London to visit some of the patients that are there for rehab from various injuries including spinal cord injuries.
Some news clippings on the wall

I did not feel comfortable taking pictures in the hospital, especially of the patients. We met one man who agreed to talk with us that had just recently suffered a spinal cord injury while mountain biking. He was very positive and was just at the very beginning of his long journey of rehabilatation

In one of the physical therapy rooms they had a display about Rick Hansen.

Jake is trying some of the hand strength exercises offered at the hospital. He has limited use of his hands, and he found putting the clothespegs on the pole to be a bit of a challenge, but his determination paid off. The lady shown with Jake and Marilyn has only been at the hospital for less than a month. In the space of less than 24 hours she became paralyzed and they are still trying to figure out how it happened. She already is regaining movement in her arms.

She epitomizes Rick's slogan, "anything is possible" This was a poster of Erica on the wall in the rehab ward.

After the hospital visit, I went for a walk downtown with Marilyn and Dawn
We came across the Middlesex County Court House in London, built in 1829

Next stop while in London, why the Thames River of course! I suppose we will have to go for tea later!

Just ducky!

Really sorry to see this on our walk along the Thames.

Nice to get away from the city

A red-tailed hawk landed way above our heads. The zoom on my little camera works pretty good, if you hold it still enough.

The hawk was probably looking for my buddy Scooter the squirrel!

Just liked this shot

I saw this outside of our hotel in referance to the 1st Hussars again, this was their motto, I can really relate to it.

There were some really cool sections of London, but as colorful as this area was, it seem depressed, mostly by the people who were habitating around the area. Seems like they may have seen better times.

Monday event night. We were honestly treated to one of the most memorable events on the relay so far. A friend of mine, Rob, organized an evening of bowling with the Special Olympics people of Woodstock, Ontario. 17 of us walked into the alley and received a standing ovation from 30 of the athletes. By the end of the evening we were ready to give them a standing ovation.

We were put in teams mixing the relay staff and the special olympians, and let me tell you it was not about the bowling, although they were very good and kicked all our butt, lol!
The comradery was instant. These people were so giving and non-judgemental, they were just happy we were there. We left feeling very honored to share in a small part of their lives. My buddy Rob is in the front.

It's nights like this that make me feel so fortunate to go across Canada and meet all these remarkable people. Please look at this link about the Special Olympics in Canada

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 94 Sarnia to London, Ontario

The start of the day for Jake and I was in Watford, Ontario. Ironic that I found this sign lying on the stage. Very fit ting, get it?

The other side of the proverbial coin. Huh? Me?

Jake had his own ideas, he cut the sign in half and kinda changed it around a bit. Dream on Jake!

The meeting was at this town hall in Watford, which is actually part of Warwick Township, population less than 4000.

Mami (who is visiting us from head office for a week) and I showing off our dance moves.
We put the medal bearers on stage so they could show of their own dance moves.

Another group pumped and ready. The kids in front made their own signs to cheer on the medal bearers.

Waiting for the convoy on the side of the road in Warwick

Next stop London

Our meeting point was at Parkwood Hospital in London

My favorite part of the breifing is when the medal bearers tell their stories on why they are here today, and their difference maker stories.

It was one of the most passionate groups I have worked with. There was a lot of emotion in the stories today that started a chain reaction of tears that included me as well.

Every member of the relay team is allowed to nominate one difference maker in their lives. Wendy chose Leigha a close family friend of  hers. Her family and friends including Wendy and Hank came out to celebrate her medal bearer moment.

Kathy with her daughter Sabrina. Kathy suffers from spina bifida and has overcome many health challenges in her life. Her daughter Sabrina is a healthy 12 year old.
Getting dark early, good thing Justan (event advance) was here with his lightsaber to direct us.

At the end of day celebration, I parked the bus to let Jake off, and this horse and buggy team snuck up behind me. They were close enough to steam up the windows.

I took the bus to our hotel, then started to walk back to the end of day celebration at Victoria Park in London. The convoy and the pace motorhome just happened to be going by so I jumped on. The medal bearers were having their own little parade tonight.

The final medal bearer coming into the park coincided with their annual christmas tree lighting ceremony. There was a lot of entertainment to put everyone in a festive mood.
There is our display and tents way over on the other side of the park. There was well over 5000 people in the park tonight.


It was nice to include the medal bearers in the christmas tree lighting ceremony. We did the firework dance for the crowd, and this time we had a live band to play the Katy Perry song.

London Life Insurance building.

I tried to take a picture of all the christmas trees lit up in the park, you have to take my word for it there were many trees and it was a colorful and festive sight.