I woke up not knowing what to expect from this day. The plan was that I was going to cycle about 23km from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, possibly along with some others, who may or may not meet me at some point along the way, and there may or may not be press waiting. I had no clue what to expect. Vancouver was behaving normally—light, warm drizzle, which can be enjoyable to bike in if equipped properly.
At Horseshoe Bay, I met Tom and Vicki. Vicki is a young woman who is 24, enjoys skiing, loves horses, and communicates using her voice
for yes, sign language, software on her iPod Touch, and her speech generating device to say everything else. Tom is Vicki’s father.
For those of you have never been to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, it is in a cute town, but a busy place nonetheless. We weren’t sure who we were meeting, where exactly we were meeting, or what to expect. We had heard a rumour that a cycling club might be joining us. Luckily, Tom had seen a photo of me and recognized me by chance as I was getting my bike set for the ride. Lauren, a close friend from school (who along with her family threw a fundraising dinner for us), was also going to cycle with me on this rainy day. I have to give her credit. She’s not a road biker and she handled a narrow, windy, hilly road on a rainy day with traffic. I won’t give her credit for excellent navigation skills—we ended up doing a 13km detour on our quest to find Vancouver City Hall. We got to see more of the city though!
It turned out to be a meet-and-chat gathering. At City Hall, our crew had been waiting for us. Jeff Riley, the head of CAYA (Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults), was also waiting for us. CAYA provides assistance to youth and adults in British Columbia to
obtain communication services, supports and technology. He’s a guru in the field of augmentative and alternative communication. Jeff was gravely sick less than a month ago, so much that he was admitted to the hospital—so he made a wise conservative choice to meet me at City Hall instead of riding in the rain.
After our City Hall session was over, we went to Wendy’s near Cambie and Broadway in Vancouver which had a patio to leave the bikes and a decent-sized parking lot. It ended up getting mentioned to the manager on shift that I was cycling across Canada for a fundraising campaign—he piled my tray up with complimentary jr. bacon cheeseburgers. He asked if I wanted something to drink. I tried to be gracious, and said “thank you, but I have a bottle of water”. He flung open the fridge and before I knew it I had a new bottle of water in my hand.
I needed some help with my extra food—I wasn’t travelling over 100km today, so I didn’t need to consume my minimum 8,500 calories. Vicki
helped me out with that. Vicki, Tom, Jeff, Pam, Lauren, Rob, Richard, Audrey, my mom, and myself talked for a while at our Wendy’s table. Many of us were mostly strangers to each other at the beginning, and we were all friends by the end.
One thing that we were talking about was the waiting lists. In British Columbia, it can take about a year to receive funding to get the services, supports and technology that people need to communicate. Imagine waiting a year to speak. Also, British Columbia is considered a “have” province—a province that is supposed to be in relatively good shape for such funding. Many other provinces don’t even have funding. It’s estimated that about 6 to 7 million dollars would be needed to cut the waiting list in B.C.. Society benefits when more people who need communication devices get communication devices and services. More people have communication devices, and the general public starts to notice that there are more people communicating in different ways—resulting in more common knowledge about AAC improving. Needless to
say, if people are able to communicate more effectively than before, then the community and society around that person benefit.
I would also like to note that although I dipped my feet in the Pacific at Port Renfrew, I could not truly say that I had been in the
Pacific. Today I changed that. I went for a quick polar plunge near the Stanley Park seawall and Beach Avenue. I tasted the salt and got my hair wet.
I want to thank our friends Richard and Audrey for their extraordinary and generous hospitality. Enormous thanks to the Duffy family for
their continued support and the fundraising dinner which they organized and hosted for us. I was touched by the donation which The Salmon House Coho Lounge restaurant made to our campaign—thank you to Raheem Kanji and The Salmon House. Tom, Vicki, Jeff—thanks for being patient and waiting around today. It was an honour to meet you all and it was great talking. I look forward to seeing the photos! Vancouver will always be a special place to me; so I’m grateful to everyone who helped to make it special. Farewell Vancouver.
Tomorrow, I depart for Mission, British Columbia. It’s going to be tough leaving this city.
P.S. I have some photos up, but nothing close to all of them. I hope to have more up in the coming days. Also keep your eyes peeled fora cross country article in Sun Media papers and Magazines on the 23rd. As well, our story has been picked up in many places that we did not expect—such as USA today. A Google search of Kilometres for Communication will turn up all sorts of media that we were unaware of. I think we’re cooking with gas. Let’s keep the momentum going.