Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A New Run The Dream First....

Past couple days have been strange, run-wise- Terry and I have been waking up to run and roll in the morning and for the first time the sun has been in our faces! Good thing we packed our sunglasses! On the brightside, we are making our loop out of southern Ontario and heading north!

So it has been quite a run through Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, Elora, Fergus and Orangeville! Three events of note included our stop, Monday, at KidsAbility, in Waterloo, Tuesday, in Elora, and today, in Orangeville.

Firstly- KidsAbility, in Waterloo, has long been recognized as a major facility serving all the children with special needs and many of those include Autism. Special thanks to Jean Cojocariju, Preseident, Waterloo Chapter, Autism Ontario; Waterloo Councillor, Diane Freeman; Stephen Swatridge, Executive Director, KidsAbility; John McVicar, Catherine Craig and Luke Burrows for making the family BBQ loads of fun!Secondly- Yesterday, Terry and I had a 5pm welcome at Centre Wellington Civic Centre, in Elora, organized by Randall Howard (yes, my uncle!). To welcome us were Mayor Joanne Ross-Zui; Michael Chong, MP Welington-Halton Hills; Adrian Hoad-Reddick, a parent with an autistic child; as well as local media and well wishers. Thank you to Uncle Randall for issuing a challenge to the residents of Centre Wellington County- His challenge was that before the conclusion of the run in December the residents could raise $5000. In just under an hour Run The Dream raised $2000! No doubt that the target can be achieved and exceeded!

Lastly- This morning, Terry and I dodged the frequent rain storms of southern Ontario to make it to Orangeville Town Hall by 11am. Greeting us was Councillor Mary Rose and MPP Silvia Jones. All this this was organized by Michael Pallet, VP Dufferin Chapter, Autism Ontario. Another $1,000 was raised in an hour! Another very positive trend!
I'd personally like to thank another individual, in Waterloo, who I've known for years- Alicia Kavanaugh who co-ordinated with the St. Jacob's Best Western for Run The Dream's accomodation. These small gestures greatly defer our operational costs! Thank you Alicia!

And, thank you to all for the 25th B-Day wishes...Best birthday yet!! The body still thinks it is 16-years old and so I'll let it keep thinking that until December!

The Dream Continues....And Rolls On....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Burlington to Hamilton to Ancaster.....

"Young is when your coefficient of dreams to memories is greater than one."
-Pierre Lassonde
Entering Ontario, the challenge is no longer- Can the body handle the 6 days of running 42 kms each day, but rather can it handle the action packed days of events as well? The rough count over the past week has been at least 20 events. Running towards Hamilton, my former university stomping grounds of McMaster, the fun never stops! So lets recap....

Marchese Health Care sponsored the entire Autism Awareness Weekend, in the Golden Horseshoe, as well as making a contribution of $6,000 to Run The Dream!
By the way, thank you to all the Police forces along the way for serving and protecting the dream!

Saturday- 9am Spencer Smith Park (Burlington), thank you to Joyce Savoline, MPP Burlington, Peter Theom, Deputy Mayor, Burlington, Rick Goldring, Burlington Councillor, Chuck Learn and Robert Plaschka, Co-Presidents of Autism Ontario (Halton Region) and Sally Luke!

Then Terry and I ran with Jen Bittner, Chris Oliver and a contigent of supporters to the next event....
12pm Pier 4 Park (Hamilton), thank you to Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, Vicky Wilson-Sheyr, President, Autism Ontario (Hamilton Wentworth) and the Starlite Steel Band.
That evening at 5:30pm Ryerson United Church (Ancaster), thank you to the Rev. Paul Rodey for hosting Run The Dream and letting Terry and I share our experiences with the congregation and the many family members that surprised me!
And the weekend would not be complete without a Sunday Jazz Brunch at Bill and Olivia Robertson's house, with the Honourary Patron Lincoln Alexander (a fellow McMaster alumni). Special thanks to the Yvonne Roberts Jazz Quartet for their great music!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mississauga Homecoming....

Ninety running days and just over 3,3oo kms to see the sign "Mississauga"!  The stretch along Lakeshore Road and the Waterfront Trail, adjacent to Lake Ontario, has long been the training ground for many Mississauga Marathons.  For those runners at home looking for a new challenge, it's on Mother's Day Weekend every year!  You can visit the website for more details.The feeling is surreal- The days running out east, taking it one day at a time, and now you're running through where it all started!  Only 5,000 kms more to go!  Time is flying by and there is so much going on.  
Terry and I also had a chance to visit Luke Burrows school , 
The New Haven Centre for Learning, in Etobicoke, a charitable non-profit school dedicated to working with children with ASD using Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapy.  Thank you to Audrey Meissner, Clinical Director, for the classroom tour. is the link for more info about their successes.
Special thanks to the Murdock family (Paul, Wendy, Carly, Kristi and Brent) for hosting a Homecoming BBQ on Thursday night.  An event this morning was held at Jack Darling Park- Special thanks again to Wendy Murdock, MPP Charles Sousa and everyone else who took time out of their busy morning, including those who ran with Terry and I from the corner of Lakeshore and Hurontario.
In Oakville, the team went to grab a bite to eat at the Star Scoops Cafe and had a nice surprise.  As I approached the counter to ask for Ketchup, a gentlemen turns around and my first reaction was to say "Hi Mike!" It was Mike Weir, before he was to play his second round at Glen Abbey, in the Canadian Open.  You never know who you are going to run into!

About an hour later was our event at St. George's Square, downtown Oakville.  Special thanks to MPP Kevin Flynn and the Town Crier for congregating the masses!  Also, important notice for all you runners, my New Balance 768's, lasted from Ottawa to Oakville (about 500kms).  It was time for a shoe change and I would like to thank The Running Company, in Oakville, for donating a pair of Saucony Pro Grids.  I can feel the spring in my step again!

The Dream Continues and Rolls On....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Standing Ovation for Luke Burrows...

"Talent and virtue in a free society should be educated regardless of wealth and birth."
                                   -Thomas Jefferson

It's noon hour, the crowds gather at Toronto City Hall and to be quite honest I am nervous!  The support is overwhelming- our MC Antony Robart, from Global Television; Kerry Joseph and Andre Durie (who deals everyday with the realities of Autism with his two sons), from the Toronto Argonauts; Debbie Christie, Executive Director of the Toronto Chapter of Autism Ontario; Frances Nunziata, Toronto City Councillor; and the Matt York Band.
However, my nerves were greatly eased after Luke Burrows, a 12-year boy, who at the age of 5 was still non-verbal, read his prepared 5-minute speech with the aid of his cue cards, and demonstrated the results of years and years of intense specialized learning.  Luke is a student at New Haven Learning Centre for Children with Autism, in Etobicoke.  To Luke- I think you stole the show when you said that your dream was to "marry your girlfriend and be a father someday".  Special thanks to everyone for their participation!
Later that afternoon, Terry and I had the honour of meeting with the Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable David Onley, and his wife, The Honourable Ruth Ann Onley.  The meeting was held in the Music Room of the Lieutenant Governor's suite at Queen's Park, which as an aide to the Lieutenant Governor told us has been the official reception room for everyone who has been received by the Lieutenant Governors of Ontario since 1937, including Royalty and Heads of State.  Their Honours were intrigued in hearing about our reasons behind the run, our views about the state of awareness of autism, the therapies that are being used succesfully, and the feedback we're getting from people that we meet.  I believe it would be fair to say that Their Honours were very interested in the discussion of Autism.  An indication of the depth of engagement is the fact that our meeting lasted slightly more than an hour, twice the time that the Lieutenant Governor's office had originally allocated. 
For those wondering, the painting in the background is former Lieutenant Governor Hilary Weston.  Eleven years ago, as a Page in the Ontario Legislature, I had the opportunity of being a part of the Honour Guard, when she was sworn in as the 26th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. 

The Dream Continues and Rolls On.....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hello Toronto!!......

Three consecutive days of running midday in 30 C+ temperatures does not phase the dream! I'll say it now and I'll say it again- The human body and mind is an amazing machine when given a chance! Focusing on the cause is a powerful source of energy!
So, hello Toronto (reached the sign today at 10am)! Thank you to our entourage of Durham Police, Toronto Police, Bikers- Sarah Cobbold and Leah Smyth and Runners- Lauren (part of our dream team) and Diana Canzius. It is a surreal moment to see the sign- The 3200 kms of highs and lows, the people, the landscape, the stories heard and told, but the best part is that there is still 5000 kms to go! I'll be running really close to my house in Mississauga, along the Lakeshore, on Thursday. That is where all the training began!

Terry and I are taking some time off of the run to do some amazing events with friends, family, sponsors and Autism organizations. There are so many things happening, in and around the GTA area, but rather then me duplicate information I encourage you to visit the website .

Stay tuned as the profile for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Run The Dream prepares to be taken to the next level! The much needed level it deserves! 3......2........1........Stay tuned!

The Dream Continues and Rolls On.....Special thanks to Michael Villeneuve, my first boss, who two years ago took a chance on a young guy from McMaster University, who joined the road crew for the week from Napanee to Toronto, and instilled the Art of the Possible lesson early in my career!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Running in Technicolour.....

Since entering Ontario the pace of running and fundraising has picked up considerably.  So many things are happening.  It seems as though Terry and I are running and rolling to event after event- Which is fantastic!!!
Quick run through (pardon the pun) of the week in review..... Special thank you to all the local organizers for making things possible and raising the awareness and money toward the targeted goal of $2.5 million.

Napanee- Meeting with Mayor Gordon Schermerhom and CAO Ray Callery (thank you Bill Daverne)

Belleville- Andrea Doucette (President of the Belleville Autism Ontario Chapter) and her daughter for running with Terry and I to the Belleville MEDIchair store and then to City Hall where we met with Mayor Neil Ellis.  Thank you to Daryl Kramp, MP, Prince Edward Hastings for meeting with us and taking the team out to dinner!
Peterborough- Thank you to Mayor Paul Ayottet, Councillor Jack Doris and MPP Jeff Leal for meeting Terry and I at the steps of City Hall and to David Adams, Executive Director of Five County Children Centre, Dianne Pick, CEO of Five County Children Centre for having the team come visit and celebrate Run The Dream's accomplishments.  Special thanks to Gail Laliberte, Head of the Peterborough Autism Chapter, for all her efforts as well!

Millbrook- Another small town with a big heart!  Special thanks to Brian Fallis and Neal Cathcart, both Reeves in the Township of Monaghan Cavan for bringing together a group of 50 people early Thursday morning and raising over $1000!  And more thanks to the runners that travelled with Terry and I, including MP Barry Devolin!
Whitby/Oshawa- Terry and I would not have been safe without the police escort of Sgt. Pual Murray and Sgt. Gavin Alston who kept us well protected from Pontypool to Pickering.  A big thank you goes to Jane Ling who co-ordinated all the festivities.  Thank you to Christine Elliott, MPP, Colin Carrie, MP, Jim Flaherty, MP, and Mayor Perkins for showing your support.  

The Dream Continues and Rolls On.......

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Running Down A Dream.....3000 KM Milestone!

"Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action."
                                    -Benjamin Disraeli

Where did another week go? Terry and I continued onward with an increased amount of activity on and off the road.

Firstly, Friday night, to accommodate the run in Kingston, Terry and I ran the Belleville to Marmora leg. It just happened to be that upon entering Marmora the 3000 km milestone was reached.
This weekend, in Kingston, the Busker Festival was a star attraction for many tourists. Saturday was also a day which a lot of thanks should be given to Pat Lalonde.  The run from Kingston City Hall to Bayridge Public School brought out dignitaries such as Deputy Mayor Bill Glover, M.P.P. John Gerretsen and local hero Jay Serdula, who will be swimming across Lake Ontario on July 28th, in support of Asbergers Syndrome.

The road team also says thank you to Andrea McGowan for supporting Terry and I for the week.  The infamous laugh will be greatly missed!  

The Dream Continues...And Rolls On!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Running and now Rolling!!......

"A leader is a dealer in hope."
-Napoleon Bonaparte
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, please allow me to officially introduce Terry Robinson! Terry is an accomplished individual I met three years ago working in the Ontario Public Service (OPS).  He grew up in Dryden, Ontario, graduated from Lakehead University and, by the way, did I mention that he is a two-time Para-Olympian. Terry has made the sacrifice of leaving his job to wheelchair with me, while I run, from Ottawa to Winnipeg- 3 month and 3000 kms of dedication! Welcome Terry!
Today we started from the Centennial Flame and were joined by a group of employees from ServiceOntario.  The days run ended, 32kms later, in Richmond.  Nothing like an Ontario run day with a little heat and humidity!  Looks like there is more of that ahead!  In the evening, Ottawa councillor Maria McRae invited the team to her Ward 16 community BBQ (special thanks to Andrew DiCapua for the arrangements).  Good time, good food and great company!
The Dream Continues....And now rolls On!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Canada!...

Rolled out of bed this morning, special thanks to the Delta Ottawa for their support of Run The Dream, and was excited to take a running day off and enjoy the festivities on Parliament Hill.
At noon, the Prime Minister and Governor General arrived for the celebrations on "The Hill" to a crowd estimated at about 75,000 people.  The snowbirds even made an appearance!  Not only is it the 141st birthday of Canada, but also the the 400th anniversary of Quebec (as already experienced first-hand!), 250th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Nova Scotia and the 150th anniversary of the founding of the colony British Columbia!
This afternoon, at 2:15pm, Opposition Liberal Leader Stephane Dion accepted our invitation for a meeting.  He and his wife, Janine, met with Kathleen Provost, Executive Director- Autism Society of Canada, the Run The Dream Crew and myself in front of the Terry Fox Monument, on the corner of Wellington and Metcalfe.  Thank you to Mr. Dion!  I hear from many families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders that being heard by those dignitaries, with the power to make decisions towards a positive change, gives them hope!  For those wondering- What about the Prime Minister Stephen Harper?  The invitation was sent a week ago and I am still awaiting a response.  Lets Hope!
Earlier, I mentioned the Terry Fox Monument. Well, there is also something else traveling across the country this year and it happens to be in Ottawa this weekend- The Terry Fox Van!  28 years ago this van came through Ottawa and began to make a positive change for cancer research!  Everyday, while on the road running, the imagination sometimes peaks into the future and wonders how the services, support and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders, in Canada, would look like?  Lets hope that today is the new beginning for that change!

The Dream Continues....