Shortly after I woke up, there was a knock on our front
door. Three cyclists from the Owen Sound Cycling Club had arrived to cycle with
us into town—Ruth, Dan, and Tom. Kerr, Tom, Gail, Tracy, and I weren’t quite
ready to cycle yet, so we got the local cyclists comfortable on our back deck
while we geared up.
The much anticipated event in Owen Sound was occurring
There was a temporary last-minute crisis with Kerr’s
computer, so Tracy and Gail stayed behind. Kerr, Ruth, Dan, the two Toms, and I
began our pedal down Highway 17 towards Owen Sound. It was another perfect day.
We went down a hill a little bit outside the town limits. On this hill, Kerr
went the fastest he’s ever gone in his life with the wind in his face—53km/hr.
At the bottom of the hill, Kerr had a huge grin on his face. We continued our
pedal through side streets and ended up at Kelso Beach. It was here that we met
up with Linda and Becky. Becky has special needs and rides in an adapted bike
powered by the legs of her mom, Linda. Their labra-doodle jogs beside them. The
design of Becky’s ride is really cool because Becky gets to sit right in the
front—I would find that quite thrilling, especially going down a hill. Kerr and
I decided not to go down the adapted bike route for our trip because we wanted
something that was light weight and versatile and that we could easily find
spare parts for (since it will get lots of use in the next 3000km).
At Kelso Beach we also met Richard Thomas, a local camera man
and film editor. He put together a lovely edit of our Owen Sound event. Gail
and Tracy resolved the computer crisis and were pedaling several kilometres
behind us. They caught up to us at Kelso, and our group was ready to roll for
our police escort into the event. Richard was busy positioning himself at
various points along the route to catch clips of us on our cycle into the
reception. Thanks Richard, we love the video. Superb job.
“What is this video?” you may ask. “What was our Owen
Sound event like?” you may wonder. Well my friends, you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQcfn6ee0QA
About 2 years ago, I went to Hughes Room, a restaurant in
Toronto where many reputable musicians play. On that night, I listened to a
folk group called Tanglefoot. They had strong voices, soft voices, an energetic
fiddle, and great stories to tell for the background of each song. I could tell
that they enjoyed playing. I became a fan, along with the rest of my family; we
bought some CDs, and supported this band that happened to be from the Grey
Bruce area near our cottage. I thought nothing of it for a couple of years.
They were just another band on my iPod that I liked to listen to and played at
the Owen Sound Folk Festival.
Our fleet of cyclists followed the police motorcycle through
downtown Owen Sound. We arrived at the market to the sound of clapping and
whistling and the sight of many red Kilometres for Communication t-shirts. Then
it was time to get the event rolling. The MC looked somewhat familiar. As soon
as he spoke, I knew who he was. I never would have imagined, sitting in a venue
2 years ago, that Steve who had a room full of people clapping and tapping to
his music would be introducing my family to a crowd full of people.
Deborah Haswell, the mayor of Owen Sound, presented Kerr
and I with Owen Sound Attack shirts. The Owen Sound Attack is the city’s OHL
team which won the provincial championships this year. There are just so many
people to thank for making this event memorable. I’m a little intimidated to
start thanking people because I know that there were so many people involved,
and I don’t want to leave anyone out. Dear Owen Sound City Councillors, you
supported this event and gave it character. Jan Chamberlain, thank you for
cleaning the BBQ. Kidding; well only partially. Jan, I do sincerely thank you
for cleaning the BBQ, but more importantly I thank you for your energy,
commitment, and the networking you brought forth when you became involved with
the Thames Valley Children’s Centre/Kilometres for Communication event. Stacy
McDougall, this wouldn’t have happened without you. You are a champion. I am
Clayton and Chris, Kerr and I loved your poems. I know
the others in ear-shot were captured as well. I’d love to share your writing.
Clayton, Chris: if you’re willing, please send us your writing!
Robbie, you did a fantastic job presenting. It’s tough to
get up in front of a crowd of strangers and give a speech. It’s tough to know
that everyone is looking and listening to you. It’s tough to see your face
projected on a big screen beside you. Thank you for being courageous and
speaking—I know that many people considered your talk a hi-light of the day. I’m
also delighted that I got the chance to meet you.
Piero and Susy, I finally got to meet you! I’ve watched
the progress the two of you have ploughed and I’ve been eager to meet you for a
long time. Hi-fives all around 😉
Tracy, the president of ISAAC Canada (our partner and
charitable organization) has been with us from the beginning of this campaign.
Our journey to empower voices and create awareness has been challenging.
Sometimes it’s appeared hopeless. Sometimes it’s seemed that no one cares. At
times it’s appeared financially impossible. At one point, it even seemed that
after 2 years of work, what I had planned wasn’t going to happen. Tracy has
always been behind us. She’s rallied the support of many to push. Tracy, when
you read your speech, I shed a tear. I don’t know if I’ve ever cried for a
speech before, but that tear represented all that could have not happened. That
tear represented all the people that we may have not met. That tear was a tear
for all the people whose lives we may have not been able to improve in some way.
I genuinely felt lucky to be sitting in that moment.
Stacy, you are our Grey Bruce hero. The time, energy,
thought, research, and effort you’ve put into the Owen Sound event is
admirable. This was a team effort, and many remarkable people contributed a remarkable
effort to produce a remarkable event. However, you were a spark and a
connector. You got so many people excited, and involved.
After the event, it was time to get in some rest at the
cottage with the fam and some of the people who made Owen Sound a special