National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR 2019 – Day 13- Kingston to Cornwall

Today was a bittersweet day… I’m still trying to come to grips with where the needle lands on the gauge of sadness and happiness.

There were three dedications this morning, and each one cascaded upon each other like a tidal wave of emotion smashing through the group and myself….

Isabella Richardson, a formal National Rider and advocate drove in to perform the dedication for Camden… a budding athlete who earned his wings at the age of 9…

Grant …who’s Dad I got to know through the Kid’s Cancer Care Dragon Boat team and his volunteering at Tour for Kids Alberta… Such an incredibly nice guy, and to look or talk with him you would never know offhand the pain he carries although I  recall him telling me once that he either had to channel his grief into volunteering and advocacy otherwise implode into self destruction… Grant’s story haunts me because it reflects one of my greatest fears… I didn’t realize it was his Angel wing day until Jim posted on Facebook… I happened to be standing right at Grant’s ambassador board when I read the post at our rest stop, so I took a picture of it with the riders in the background and let Jim know we were thinking of them…

Jessica… today is her birthday, and she is the daughter of our crew chief Jennifer… it’s heart wrenching to see the walls of grief crumble on someone … a mother who stoically projects a rock hard strength of being in the face of one of life’s greatest tragedies.

We visited the Kingston Children’s Hospital to see the progress they have made in establishing a supportive practice for teens and the younger children… no kids were in treatment at the time, and as I’m nodding my head mindlessly to what the clinic director is saying all I’m doing is having flashbacks to the ACH Oncology clinic when it’s packed,  and you have to overhear and pretend to not notice the three year old child next to you screaming “Mommy, Mommy, mommy don’t let them touch me!!!”.  I will never forget our first out patient follow up visit to the clinic… Again… the nurses and doctors are the Angels that walk among us… I’ll keep saying it no matter how sick people get about hearing it.

The weather was absolutely stunning, the scenery was spectacular, and we are seriously getting spoiled by police escorts… what a difference it makes in both hammering to where you need to go and to reenforce the urgency of the cause for which you ride… according to Gerry, this type of escort work is the highlight of an officer’s day because they have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews and it gives them a chance to show their support.

Along the way we were met by more members of Stacey’s family and families that she has had helped in their Cancer journey… we met Alex and his family, as they came out of their way to share their story and show support to the riders.  They are part of a Childhood Cancer Awareness program that paints a rock, and similar to geocaching you leave the rock somewhere and someone finds it… they take a picture and post it to the “CHEO Rocks” Facebook page and hide it for someone else to find and the process repeats… I will do my best to take pictures of the rock on my way to Halifax and return with it back to Calgary where it can continue on it’s intended purpose.

We have a seriously loooooong shuttle tonight, and kick things off again in the morning….I’m looking forward to some sleep, and I’ll better decide where the needle falls later.

Thanks for reading and your support

Omar