Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Dream Continues....

"The pessimist sees only the tunnel; the optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel; the realist sees the tunnel and the light- and the next tunnel."
                     -Sydney J. Harris (a Tom Jackman contribution)


Throughout Run The Dream's Epic 2008 Journey- Born out of Hope, developed through Vision, and initiated by Action- everyday has been a learning experience about how human nature, in Canada, shapes where we were yesterday, where we are today, and where we are going tomorrow, as individuals, and a society.

I'll be the first to admit that 199 Running Days, 8020 kilometres, over 40 kilometre as a daily average, with 800+ hrs spent running would be considered, by some, a milestone if achieved in one lifetime, let alone one year.  But, one who sees these numbers would be missing intrinsic purpose for Run The Dream.  
The merits of the obstacles should never overshadow the merits of the opportunities.  On September 11th, 2007, six weeks after breaking my ankle, my cast came off.  It was during those six weeks on crutches, that the body, mind and soul agreed the feat of running coast-to-coast could be and would be achieved!  By no means did I have all the answers, but I had to take the first step of planning a route, which led to writing a business plan, which led to one of the most difficult steps- Sharing my idea with other people.  But, one of the healthiest aspects of communicating your thoughts and ideas is accepting criticism. At first, it was frustrating to be rejected by two well-established children's charities, but someone once told me that "Success is Never An Orphan For Long."  If you want to go far in life, whether personal, or professional, you need to surround yourself with a great team of people you can trust, respect, communicate openly with and who support your vision! Most, if not all, of Run The Dream's success should be credited to my 'Dream Team', and sponsors, who unconditionally supported me, from St. John's, NL, to Victoria, BC, and Terry Robinson, from Ottawa to Winnipeg.  Run The Dream's objective was to "Help Jonathan Howard Turn Children's Dream's Into Abilities" and I thank the team for staying focussed on the mission statement.

I could never find a specific book about how to run across Canada, but over the course of this first major Run The Dream endeavour many life lessons were learned.  Adapt to your surroundings is at the top of the list!  This does not mean you compromise what you believe in, but rather admit what works, admit what doesn't work, make rational changes, and move forward.  There is no shame in admitting mistakes, after all, we are all humans!  The second lesson learned during the run was how building relationships is much more important, and sustainable, then the satisfaction of a transaction.  Raising money is key component to any charitable organization, but many people I met had a greater gift then just the size of their cheque book- It is their time, dedication, energy, and access to resources I do not have that can pay greater dividends, for children and families affected by Autism, which is going to be a key foundation of gaining the profile this issue deserves in Canada and the world.  Someone once told me that "A Rising Tide Floats All Boats."  Every Canadian and global citizen can play a part!
For the majority of the blog entries I wrote, "The Dream Continues" Perhaps the beauty of achieving your #1 dream is the creation of a new "Dream List". For the next week or two the pen and paper will be in full brainstorming mode about how "The Dream Continues...".  There are two items I'd like to highlight as we move forward into 2009.

Firstly, I need your help!  There are many roads I did not travel but where television does.  I received an e-mail from a friend who motivated me to put together an audition video for a CBC show called Canada's Next Great Prime Minister and would appreciate your feedback on my entry as we attempt to bring Autism Spectrum Disorders the profile it deserves in this country.

Secondly, stayed tuned to the Run The Dream website over the days, weeks and months to come.  Every Canadian's support was greatly appreciated over the course of the run and is needed even more as we move forward together.  I encourage you to stay up-to-date on events by signing up for the newsletter.

Lastly, but most importantly, when one chapter ends a new one begins.  I encourage everyone who has read this blog entry to make a list of their 20 dreams.  Under each dream write the first step which will make your dream closer to becoming a reality.  Ask yourself this question- Why am I not taking that step today?  Remember, anything is possible, if you "Dream Like You've Never Failed!"

The Dream Continues....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Lap Around The Block....

The realization of completing the run the has not sunk in! Vancouver Island has a vast population of people so the Run The Dream autism awareness component continues.
The two days following the final run day to Mile '0' were spent between Victoria and Nanaimo, British Columbia.  First stop was Victoria Mayor, Dean Fortin's office.  Special thanks to Shelley Bauder Aldridge and her children Austin (who has Autism) and Emily for joining the brief meeting with Mayor Fortin.

Next stop, Duncan, where Deputy Mayor Ray Cadorette took time out of his busy Friday-Before-The-Holidays schedule to meet and talk about the run.

Ladysmith Town Hall was the final resting stop for the day.  Councillor Gillian Dashwood welcomed the Dream on behalf of Ladysmith, B.C., along with fellow councillors, city employees and members of the community.
Interestingly, the weather has continued to be unseasonably cold for Vancouver Island. Yesterday, in Nanaimo, the temperatures dropped to -16 C (colder than any running day), but that didn't stop the Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization (NUKO) from holding an outdoor fundraiser.  NUKO is a local organization that supports the needs of children and youth (with neuro-developmental disabilities) and their families.  Thanks to all those who braved the cold, including Nanaimo Mayor John Rutten.
Above is a picture of the main street in Ladysmith, B.C. with over 30 centimetres of snow!

For the next week, the Century Plaza Hotel, in Vancouver, is accommodating the Dream (BIG thank you to the GM Sergio!).  There is a lot of planning and brainstorming for Run The Dream continuing the Dream in 2009!

Stay tuned for the big announcements, as they happen, as well as a Run The Dream- Year In Review for 2008.

The Dream Continues...  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

199 Running Days and 8,020 kms Later....

If you had asked me before the run why, despite the prevailing headwinds, I was running from east to west, my response would have been because I was going to be ending in a part of Canada that is known for its temperate climate during the December months.

Mother Nature has been fairly kind to me thus far, but decided to throw one last challenge my way- snow, wind and bone-chilling temperatures!  Little did she know that after 198 days of running, you learn to expect the unexpected, after all this is Canada!
5PM Wednesday, December 17/08
I boarded the ferry at the Tsawwassen Terminal.  Thanks to the Delta Police force for the last escort on the mainland.

8AM Thursday, December 18/08
Begin the last 33.5 kms from Swartz Bay on route to Victoria, B.C.

9:30AM (KM 15)- Traffic accident, due to the weather conditions!  For the first time on this entire run I am running, on the shoulder, faster than the motorists for a good 15 minutes.

10:30 AM (KM 25)- Enter into the Greater Victoria Area....45 minutes away from MILE 'O'

11:18 AM (The Final KM)- Braiden Gilmore, no stranger to the challenges of Autism runs the last 200 metres with me to MILE 'O'

12PM- I made my way over to the British Columbia Legislature where the Honourable Tom Christensen, Minister of Children and Family Development welcomed Run The Dream on behalf of the Premier Gordon Campbell.

For those wondering about the 'toe dip', the snow was so deep that the beach was closed!  I instead decided to be the first Cross Canada runner to do a snow angel, at Mile 'O', in the shadow of the Terry Fox Statue.
The run may have ended, BUT....

The Dream Still Continues....


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Step At A Time....

Sleep has now become optional and adrenaline has filled the void.  Over the past two days, between run segments, I've had the chance to meet with newly elected Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson, who despite riding his bike to work, in a severe snowstorm, still made our meeting on time! 
Their are no boundaries as to who is affected, in their lives, by Autism- even the family of the ownership group of the Vancouver Canucks, who, earlier this year, launched the Canuck Autism Network (CAN), to help spread the awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the province of British Columbia.  I'd like to thank the organization for inviting me to Kerrisdale Elementary School and help launch their 'We Can be Friends' Programme.
I would also like to thank the Mayor of Richmond, Malcolm Brodie;  Delta Councillor, Scott Hamilton; Delta CAO, George V. Harvie for welcoming 'The Dream' into their municipalities. 

Time now for my last 15 kms, on the mainland, to the Tsawwassen Ferry, at 5pm, which will take me to Vancouver Island.
For those who lost count of when 2010 Olympics were coming to Vancouver, I took this picture as of December 16th/08, at 8:16pm PST for you.

As for Run The Dream, Running Days to Victoria, B.C.........ONE!

The Dream Continues.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Return to Innocence....

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
Saturday morning, unseasonably cooler weather had settled into the lower mainland, but that did not stop my running partners, from Chilliwick, led by Louanne McDonald, join me for a 23 km run to Abbottsford, B.C.  Thankfully the 70 km/hr winds were at our back!  Meeting us at City Hall was Mayor George Peary.
In the afternoon I continued onto Willowbrook Shopping Centre, in Langley, B.C.  Thank you to the many supporters who took time out of their holiday shopping schedule to come out and support Run The Dream.  I had the opportunity to meet with Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender and MP Mark Warwara.

Today, after my last running off day, I headed another step closer to Vancouver and Victoria. On my way I stopped in at James Kennedy Elementary School to speak with the students, had a brief lunch time stop in Surrey, B.C. to meet with Mayor Dianne Watts, and concluded with a fundraising stop at the Grand Villa Casino, in Burnaby, B.C., with a welcome, on behalf of the mayor, Councillor Sav Dhaliwal.
Lastly, but most importantly, I must thank Wendy Durnan, a mother who knows first-hand the obstacles of raising an autistic child.  It continues to amaze me the inner strength of families who deal with this issue 24/7 and yet still go the extra distance, with the little energy left, to make a difference outside the household.  Wendy is another example of the many parents who are Canadian Heroes!  Thank you Wendy and family!

Special thanks to the Best Western, in Langley, and Delta Suites, in Vancouver, for accommodating 'The Dream'.

3 Running Days Left...Dec 18th- Victoria, B.C.

The Dream Continues......