This morning started in the GoodLife parking lot in Kingston where our convoy parked overnight, with access to the 24hr. facility for hot showers…yahoo! Our breakfast was hosted across the street by the good people at Eggspress, who laid out a great spread for us.
Our morning dedication this morning included tributes to three kids lost to cancer, including the only daughter of our crew chief, Jenn. Jessica, one of Jenn’s four kids, had a mole appear on her head when she was 16 that turned out to be malignant melanoma. The mole was removed and no further treatment prescribed. Four years later, in August 2006, Jenn received a panicked call from Jessica…she was coughing up blood! A trip to emergency and a CT scan showed spots on her lungs…the cancer had returned. The oncologist confirmed the worst – metastasizing melanoma and no treatment was being considered…Jessica was terminal and given 6 months to live. Jenn describes in heartbreaking detail how her daughter dropped out of University, and came home to be with her family and make plans for her funeral, never complaining. Jessica passed in August 2007 at age 21, devastating her family.
The second tribute was for Camden, the son of a Coast-to-Coast family, who had a love of sports and dreamed of being an NHL hockey player. In June 2018, at the age of 8, he was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma, a common form of childhood soft tissue cancer. Camden and his family spent two months last fall in Boston where he received Proton radiation, which destroyed the tumour, but the cancer had spread to his spine and brain. He went to SickKids for additional chemotherapy and radiation, but unfortunately, Camden lost his battle and passed away in May 2019, less than a year after his diagnosis.
The third tribute was for Grant, who in 2011, at the age of 16, started a treatment protocol for leukemia at the Calgary Children’s Hospital. At first, he responded well to treatment, with an amazing attitude and a strong desire to beat this disease. Within 3 weeks, he was in remission and able to attend Camp Kindle that summer. In August, he complained of aches and plains and was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia with new intense treatment protocols that would see him hospitalized for lengthy periods. He developed breathing problems and bumps were appearing all over his body. Shortly after a third cancer – skin leukemia – was confirmed, Grant passed away, surrounded by his family.
Today, we will ride for Jessica, Camden and Grant.
We rolled out of the parking lot, with two police motorcycles escorting us a short way to the CancerCare Centre of Southeastern Ontario at the Kingston General Hospital, where we were met by pediatric oncology staff and given a tour of their facilities. Then it was back on the road as we followed our police escorts east on Highway 2 to our first rest stop in the picturesque town of Gananoque on the St. Lawrence River.
After a short break, and bidding farewell to our motorcade, we continued east along the Thousand Islands Parkway, a wonderful mostly flat ride with beautiful views of the river and the many islands dotting the water. It was sunny and warm with very little wind – welcome conditions after the past several days of wet, cold and wind.
We arrived in Brockville for lunch and were met by a gaggle of family and friends cheering for Stacy, one of our riders. The Brockville and 1000 Island Tourism staff hosted a chilli lunch picnic for us in St. Lawrence Park, with home-baked treats courtesy of Stacey’s relatives.
After lunch, we were escorted to the county limits by a police car, enjoying the views of the river and the massive freighters making their way to and from the Great Lakes. Our peloton was able to maintain a high rate of speed as we took turns pulling hard at the front. We rolled into the ride finish area, just outside of Cornwall, before packing our bikes on the truck and shuttling to the Cornwall Civic Complex for showers and a great turkey dinner courtesy of Stacey’s family.
We have long a shuttle tonight to the Louis Garneau offices located just west of Quebec City, where our day will begin tomorrow.