Today is a kind of special NKCR day. We ride as a group, with a large number of friends and wheel family into Sick Kids in Toronto. As in 2017, we had a police escort for our last leg, this time from Humber College down the Lakeshore, and up to the University entrance of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
The day began early as we arrived after midnight in Hamilton only to be greeted by crazy friends April, Geoff, Kathy, Jacquelyn, John and Olya in costume when we arrived. We didn’t have a lot of time to catch up then, but they stayed with us during the day today, and it was a treat to have them around as riders and cheering section. We met a large number of one-day riders at McMaster Hospital for breakfast, a presentation and dedication as we kicked off our formal ride for the day. It was awesome to see so many friends and family out to greet the riders. We rode today in honour of Alex Pace, son of former National Rider Len Pace, who was stricken with osteosarcoma. He endured 10 months of chemotherapy and two very invasive surgeries, including an 11 hour surgery with two medical teams to address the primary tumor in his left femur, which left him with a scar from mid shin to above his hip, with a metal rod for a femur and a knee replacement. After this he underwent surgery to address metastases in his right ankle, hip and lung. In November 2007, AML was diagnosed, and faced with two terminal ilnesses, he passed away on Feb 12, 2009, weeks shy of his 12th birthday. Alex faced these unbeliveable challenges with grace and maturity and never once complained. He spent his time after initial treatment enjoying time at the family cottage, reading endless numbers of books, swimming, playing frisbee, building sandcastles and tubing with his brother and cousins. Alex’s family have forged new friendships and strengthened old ones in an effort to live out everything Alex represented – love and goodness.
The dedication at McMaster was attended by not only the riders and crew but also friends, family and staff from the McMaster Children’s Hospital.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to crew chief Mark Geene as he got off the 2019 NKCR train in Toronto. A few tears were shed, and I love and respect Mark and everything he has done for the ride and the foundation over the years. He was our Team 1 crew chief in 2017, and brought a level of familiarity and stability to the early part of the 2019 ride as well. We will miss you Superman.
After our visit at McMaster Children’s, we got on the road, to once again meet up with friends at stops along the way, gathering riders as we went. The day was wet with a couple of rain showers, but it could not dampen our spirits as we rode today.
We had a police escort from the RCMP for most of the day, and this transitioned to the Metropolitan Toronto police services as we left Humber for Sick Kids in Toronto. This was an incredible ride down the Lakeshore and up University Avenue to Sick Kids. We can’t thank these officers enough for the support and the smooth, safe ride. The looks on peoples faces as our large peloton flew by on roads normally busy with traffic was priceless. Many people took photos or videos although I am sure most did not know why we were there.
At Sick Kids, we met more family and friends, and it was my first opportunity in two weeks to connect with my wife Janet, children Katerina and Galen, and Katerina’s boyfriend Julian. It was nice to see everyone there, and there was a huge crowd waiting for us as we rode up and into the hospital’s west entrance. We were then taken to an area in the hospital for some hot coffee, snacks and dry socks! There we had a presentation from the hospital, learning about how our fundraising helps with revolutionary treatments, and watched a very emotionally charged video for Sick Kids VS and the construction of the new Sick Kids hospital which is under way. After this we loaded up into the RVs to shuttle to showers, dinner and then on our way to Kingston to begin our next leg (and see more of my NKCR wheel family there).
After an emotionally charged day, now it’s a little downtime before we ride again. It’s hard to believe there are only 6 more days in the 2019 National Ride. The time flies by in a blink, but the relationships created last a lifetime.