Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mandarin MS Walk - Sudbury

Since becoming more involved with the Sudbury Chapter of the MS Society of Canada, I have become aware that May is our big fundraising month. How the rest of our year goes financially (and I am the new Chapter Treasurer so this of great concern to me) depends on what kind of May we have. I wrote about the Carnation Campaign that we ran before Mother's Day and now it was time for the MS Walk. Or, rather, the Mandarin MS Walk in recognition of the primary sponsor.

After I learned about the Walk and its impact on both Chapter and Division resources, I resolved to get involved. While fundraising years ago involved taking pledge sheets to everyone you knew (and a few you didn't), the electronic age has changed much of that. I went to the Society web page for the Walk and  registered myself. I then took the link for the personal fundraising page it created for me and circulated it to all my Facebook friends, the VROC newsgroup and several Email lists I maintain. They would then be able to donate on line via credit card if they chose to.

The generosity of people I know was beyond anything I had expected. I watched the total grow and, as I moved towards the top of the list, I became aware of another motivated person. Someone named Andrea Danyluk-Wolski was at the top of the list and I set my sights on her. Slowly I caught up and then passed her. Then she passed me. Then I passed her again. When I returned from SEVROC in North Carolina, I was back in second place until I entered the cash that Sandy and I had been given. I did this last Thursday and regained top billing with $1,780. But when I checked in Saturday morning, Ms. Danyluk-Wolski had pulled ahead decisively with a total of $2,010. This was the coup-de-grace, if you will.

The great thing is that getting beaten in a contest like this isn't a bad thing. If we spurred each other on to higher heights, the fight against MS won no matter which one of us came out on top. Now, with the money raising done, it was time to actually walk  the Walk.

After the cold morning yesterday, today dawned much more pleasantly. The sky was blue without a cloud and it was warmer (but not too warm). Sandy and I arrived at the Rona Ramsey MS Centre of Hope a little early and registered, turning over the cash and pledge sheets before the crowds arrived. Then we loitered about in the parking lot as more and more people arrived including our honourary chair, well known local personality and funeral director Geoffrey Lougheed. If there is a worthwhile cause in Sudbury, Geoffrey or his brother Gerry Jr. will usually not be far away.

Our weather for the day

We got here early

Soon they were parking in the street

We still have carnations for sale

Registration was efficient

The volunteers knew their jobs

Walkers came in all shapes, sizes and ages

Keepers of the shirts - a serious job

Our chefs wouldn't feed us until after we walked

Some didn't even have to walk

Our emergency team and the Walk Honourary Chair

Even the four legged walkers got taken care of

Geoffrey Lougheed (Honourary Chair) and Sandy

Some teams even had shirts

As the 11:00 AM departure time approached, Chapter Chair Laurel Ireland took the microphone to welcome the assembled walkers, who came in all genders, sizes, ages and species. Then Geoffrey took the mike and gave us a few very motivational words culminating with an anecdote telling us exactly when he knew he would not be a model for the Speedo swimsuit company. It is no wonder this kind gentleman is in demand as a speaker.

Laurel welcomes everyone as Rona advises Geoffrey

Geoffrey explaining why he isn't a Speedo model

Fundraising Director Rona Ramsey - a force of nature

Opening remarks finished, the walkers made for the street en masse. Actually, everyone filed out onto the sidewalk in an orderly fashion for the prescribed five kilometer course. It was pretty straightforward. Walk 2.5 kilometers down the road. Then walk 2.5 kilometers back. It would be pretty hard to get lost. I had been concerned about my knee, which was still painful at times due to bursitis or arthritis or one of those other nasty -itis's. But it doesn't bother me much just walking and was feeling good today. Lucky for us, there was a bike lane as well as a sidewalk so we could spread out and pass others if necessary. It was interesting that, after all the lobbying to add the bike lanes, on this beautiful Sunday we didn't encounter one bicycle except for a few ridden by the kids on the Walk.

Some of the younger folk ran out ahead at the beginning while we set a steady pace that would (we hoped) see us finish without undue strain. We fell in with Mr. Lougheed for a while, talking of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. And soon we were at the half way point where there was an awning, water and a couple of portable facilities. We stopped for a moment while Geoffrey soldiered on alone.

And they're off

The walkers were orderly and determined

The turnaround point

There were no turns but, just in case.....

I felt pretty good as we started to retrace our route back to the Centre. But eventually I realized that I was on a 5K walk with 4K shoes. The balls of my feet started to chafe due to worn insoles and I knew I was slowing down when a young lady pushing a stroller with her pre-school daughter walking beside her passed me. I'm sure Sandy could have gone faster but she stayed with me out of loyalty. Or maybe pity. The low rolling hills on the outbound leg seemed to have grown steeper. But we stuck with it and, before too long, the finish line was in site and then it was behind us.

We used the bicycle path as well

A tree

We started spreading out near the end

Sandy approaches the finish looking good

At the Centre, there was water, soft drinks, fruit, hot dogs and chips. Spirits were high as everyone enjoyed the ambiance and the food.

Time for a hot dog and a drink

Waiting for the results

Our lone broadcast media reporter

Laurel once again took the microphone. She introduced the Board members in attendance and again thanked everyone for coming. The total raised so far was just shy of $30,000. She also revealed that we were the charity of choice for this year's FisherWavy golf tournament, held yesterday. The projected donation from that event was expected to be better than $28,000, a number that brought joy to the heart of Attila the Bookkeeper (as I often refer to myself).

One of the features of this year's Walk was a prize for the highest individual fundraiser. It was a glider swing/daybed that was fully screened in, a wondrous piece of outdoor furniture for our locale. There were also gift certificates for second and third places. These had been arranged for by our Fundraising Director, the incomparable Rona Ramsey. She has a way of asking for things in a manner that makes it very hard to say no.

I knew I wasn't the big winner but was surprised when I placed third. It seem Francine, proprietor of the Chateauguay Motel and Restaurant and a big supporter of the Chapter, had walked in with enough pledges to secure second place. Andrea, of course, came first. I was finally able to meet my online nemesis and found her to be a very attractive young lady. As Francine was vowing to work harder and raise more for next year, Andrea and I decided that we would make another contest out of it, all in good sport.

Laurel centres me out

Board members Lori Sirkka and Rona Ramsey

Troy Tiffin, his team and Lori (isn't she photogenic?)

Andrea and the first prize

Laurel and Lori hand out gift bags


After the prizes were given out and the crowd started to dissipate, some of us stayed to stow the chairs and fold the tables. We policed the grounds and made sure everything was shipshape before we took our leave. This event managed to raise a significant amount of money to assist the Chapter meet its obligations towards both MS client services and research. And it was fun. I expect we will be here with bells on again next year. Look out Andrea and Francine, I have you in my sights:-))

I would like to thank all the friends and family who contributed to my Walk. All the walking in the world would not have accomplished anything without your generosity. You are the best.

Thanks to our sponsors

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Freedom Riders Memorial Run 2013

Each year, the Freedom Riders Motorcycle Association of Northern Ontario, Inc. (known usually simply as the Freedom Riders) holds a Memorial Run to remember fallen members and, more generally, all friends and family who are no longer with us. For the last few years, this has been held on the last Saturday in May.

This Saturday morning dawned clear, sunny and cold. It was just above freezing in New Sudbury and word was that it was below that mark in the Valley. Sandy and I donned several layers to hold in the warmth and then I went out to check the bike tires. The pressures were last set at 3,500 feet elevation and 70 F in Maggie Valley. The current 1,200 above seal level and forty degree cooler temperature resulted in tires that were six PSI low. The new air pump fixed that in short order.

Leo arrived as I was airing the tires and we managed to get under way at the planned 7:50 AM to make the meeting time of 8:30 across town at Fielding Memorial Park.

Fielding Memorial Park - Sudbury Ontario

Last year, we were the first to arrive at the park. This time, although we were actually earlier, there was a good crowd already assembled. Many were on bikes but a few arrived in cars or trucks. The nature of this gathering meant that it didn't matter how a person got there as long as they attended.

The lineup

The other lineup

Before we got down to the main purpose of our gathering, it was time for a pleasant task. The Freedom Riders usually generates a surplus of cash from our annual Freedom Rally. In accordance with our bylaws, the membership from time to time decides to donate a portion of this surplus to a local children's charitable cause. For the third consecutive year, we were about to present a cheque for $1,100 to the Canadian Diabetes Association to send a local underprivileged diabetic child to Camp Huronda near Huntsville..

Susan Levesque of the Canadian Diabetes Association
with Chantal & President Rob

Gathered to present donation
(Photo by Gary Lamarche)

President Rob presents Camp Huronda cheque to Susan Levesque
(Photo by Gary Lamarche)

Cheque presentation complete, we moved towards the edge of the adjacent pond for the memorial service. Last year, we held it by a tree planted in memory of founding member Alex Ogilvy. Unfortunately, the tree did not survive the year so, while we plan how to replace the tree, we had to make due with what was available this morning.

Biker recording the proceedings

Roger ponders nature

Gathering for the memorial service

Father Jolicoeur, a local priest who does a lot with the motorcycling community, had once again graciously agreed to conduct the memorial. He arrived in his Smart Car and was introduced by Nepper, our VP. His words were simple but heart felt as he spoke of our feelings for people who are no longer with us. In closing, he blessed us and our bikes. Although I don't believe, I never turn down a sincere blessing.

Fr. Jolicouer, VP Nepper and President Rob preside

Once the memorial itself was done, it was time for the second part of the memorial tradition. Food. We  had a reservation for a pre-arranged buffet at Mr. J's Roadhouse in Lively. It was only a couple of miles but we managed to get there several different ways. All of them involved road construction.

Mr. J's Roadhouse - Lively Ontario

The steeds waiting outside

The back section of the restaurant was set up for us when we arrived. There were just enough places to accommodate the crowd, which numbered about thirty hardy souls. Unfortunately, we were almost an hour early so the buffet was not set out yet. You can't blame the establishment for the unexpected. Coffee and tea were brought straight away as we relaxed and waited for the food to be brought out.

Getting seated

VP Nepper and his trusty camera

When the food trays were brought out, it was worth waiting for. Breakfast included perogies & sour cream, hash brown potatoes, scalloped potatoes, large sausages, bacon, ham, french toast and pancakes. Additionally, since this was technically a brunch, there was a beef dish and  a lasagna. It wasn't a good place for someone on a diet to be. Lucky for me, I haven't been too serious about the diet lately.

Food line

With the dining behind us, our trusty VP Nepper took charge of the ride. He led with President Rob riding second while Leo and I guarded the rear. The sixteen bikes held a good staggered formation as we headed out Municipal Road 55 towards Manitoulin Island. I would have included photos of the actual ride but Sandy forgot her camera at home.

The ride to Espanola was uneventful. We stopped at the Tim Horton's on the south side of town for a quick break. At this point, Sandy and I decided we wouldn't continue on to Manitoulin Island because of some work that needed to be done at home and so we bid farewell to the others and headed back to Sudbury.

Stop at Tim''s in Espanola

More at Tim's

On our way back into town, we decided to put in an appearance at North Star Recreation, our local Honda/Kawasaki dealer. The Honda demo bikes were here today, including the new 700 and the F6B. There was a group heading out just as we got there so we waved goodbye to them. Owner Dave Bimm directed me to the coffee machine and we talked to a few people while I drank mine.

Honda demo bikes at North Star Recreation - Sudbury

From North Star, we returned to the house and put the bike away. I used Kawachem cleaner to remove a large number of red spatters which were recently bugs from the windshield and fairing. Some day soon I will break open one of the new Kawasaki cleaning kits I won and give the bike a good going over.

The main task for the rest of the afternoon was mowing. I had mowed our yard and that of our neighbor the day we left for North Carolina. After we got back, it rained all week and the grass had grown like weeds. So had the weeds. I fired  up the mower and got to work. Despite having the mower set on the highest level, I had to unload the grass bag about four times more often than usual. Although I wasn't able to finish the back because the ground was still wet, I got a good start on the job. I will get the rest tomorrow or the next day.

Today's Route (121 motorcycle miles):