The day began early with a 5am wakeup and breakfast at 5:30. Then it was off in the RV’s to White Rock. We had some time to find the stones we would put in the ocean and carry across the country, and then it was time to get things going. We began with a dedication and Patrick Sullivan talked about his son Finn, and both Finn’s struggles with cancer, and what the family went through. Finn, the boy who lived, was a rambunctious, serious, active boy who was diagnosed in February, 2007 (at 20 months) with Rhabdomyosarcoma. Finn had a year of chemotherapy, over 70 anesthetics, 30 radiation treatments and other surgeries and treatments. Cancer took Finn’s life in October, 2008. You can read more about Finn at the Team Finn Website. Patrick carries a water bottle covered with the wristbands of those who have “graduated” from childhood cancer, and one of my fellow national riders, Chuck Magnus will carry the water bottle across the country to Halifax in his honour. When Patrick took the long, long strand of treatment beads (one for every treatment Finn had) out of the bottle, you could have heard a pin drop, and there was not a dry eye on the beach.
After Patrick’s dedication, it was time for a toast, and then we put one stone back in the Pacific ocean, with two to carry across the country (one to keep and one to place in the Atlantic), and then dipped our wheels in the Pacific, to be repeated when we arrive in Halifax.
After that we were on our way – first stop in Abbotsford. I had a flat tire (again) along the way and spent part of the first leg in the follow vehicle as the road was to busy to try to get ahead of the riders. At Abbotsford, our first break stop, it was more tears as “BC Bob” – Bob Aruja talked, and we were introduced to another family who had lost a child to cancer.
Then we were on and with another stop for lunch, we arrived in Hope late afternoon – after a photo op at the big sign into Hope, and another flat :(, we arrived, had showers, dinner, and began our shuttle to Kamloops for the next leg of our journey. Our team – Team Bacon, and my bunk mates, are coming together nicely, and it’s going to be a great trip, if a bit cramped in the RV for shuttles.
It’s hard to express the emotions involved, but I can say that it was an intense day, and one that brought our “wheel family” closer together. There was a lot of laughter as well, but ultimately today was about #whyweride, and why no child should ever have to suffer through this again. For that, I need your help. Please, PLEASE, open your wallets and donate what you can at snkcr.com/richmeesters to help us get kids beyond childhood cancer. The pain is real, and we can beat this.
Rich Meesters, National Rider