Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Aloha Alberta....

Is this really late October in Canada?  Perhaps we could break out the margaritas or pina coladas because the past few days have been extraordinarily warm!  Temperatures in the mid-20s!  A little windy, but I'll take the tropical running temperatures!
Hello Alberta!  Over the next couple weeks, Run The Dream is going to began to understand why Alberta is considered by many across this country to have the best supports and services for families that deal with Autism.  
Despite the strong headwinds, I was able to run into Medicine Hat (aka "The Hat") today.  The cities claim to fame is by Rudyard Kipling's quote "all hell for a basement", referring to the vast reserves of natural gas that it sits on.  One of the many attractions in Medicine Hat is the 'Saamis Teepee' an aboriginal symbol for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.  The world's tallest teepee was moved to Medicine Hat in 1991 and stands adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway.  You can't miss it when you travel through town.
I'd like to thank Medicine Hat Mayor Norm Boucher for meeting with Run The Dream late this afternoon.  I would also like to thank the Cypress Park Resort Inn (south of Maple Creek, SK) and Friendz of Ours B&B (south of Dunmore, AB) for hosting the dream over the past few days.

The Dream Continues...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Swift Current and Gramma Bep!

"I skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."
                                    -Wayne Gretzky

She has lived in Swift Current for 35 years. She has a story about every person in this town.  I don't believe it is any coincidence that the 'Welcome to Swift Current- Where Life Makes Sense Sign' is in her front yard on the east side of town.  After all, she is Gramma Bep!  Whenever CBC Radio wants to know what's going on in Swift Current they call Gramma Bep -  she knows what's going on!  I think she does everything in life except be Mayor of Swift Current, Premier of Saskatchewan and Prime Minister of Canada.  You ask her a question- she tells it like it is and how it should be!
Hello from Swift Current!  Made it into town on Friday, met with councillor Tim Bugera, at City Hall, and spoke with the Southwest Booster and Prairie Post about Run The Dream and the issue of Autism in this country.
Swift Current is also home to the Swift Current Broncos Western Hockey League Team. Councillor Bugera was kind enough to connect me with Keegan Goodrich Public/Media Relations Director for the hockey team. Keegan not only provided Alex and I with tickets to see the Broncos play the Edmonton Oil Kings, but also surprised us during the second period by announcing over the public address system, to a crowd of 5,000 people, about Run The Dream and Autism Awareness. Perhaps this should be a new marketing initiative to spread the awareness?  I'll have to ask Gramma Bep, as I said, she knows everything!
Thank you Gramma Bep for the good food,  warm roof over my head and  great stories.  The weekend in Swift Current was one worth remembering!

The Dream Continues....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Enjoying the Prairie Skies...

It is true what they say in the prairies- If your dog ever runs away you can watch it run away for almost a week!
West of Moose Jaw the landscape is starting to develop some rolling hills.  The running will be remain fairly intense until Calgary, usually 50 km days, and 5-6 hours on the road.
Alex has gained two new furry friends- Putty and Simba.  Their owners are also taking care of us for a few days here in Herbert, SK and this is their backyard!
Look out Swift Current...the Dream is coming!

The Dream Continues...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Moose Jaw Experience....

Rumour has it Al Capone used to rule the underground streets and tunnels back in the day.
Today, I met with Moose Jaw Mayor Dale McBain and he assured me those activities do not exist anymore.
Mayor McBain was more than delighted to meet and listen to the experience about the growing issue of Autism and the run experience.  Bonus marks for this mayor!  He knew that October was Autism Awareness Month!
As you can see, by the pictures, the snow from Thanksgiving is long gone and the temperatures are back in the low teens.  There is a lot to see in Moose Jaw- The Tunnels, the infamous Temple Garden Mineral Spa, The Western Development Museum, The Murals of Moose Jaw and the Moose Jaw Warriors (Western Hockey League Team) to name a few attractions.
Special thanks to John and Lois, owners of Wakamow Heights B&B for their hospitality, and the Penthouse suite, which made the rest and recovery very comfortable!

The Dream Continues.... 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Regina and a Road Trip To Saskatoon...

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."
                                               -Albert Einstein

I love Regina!  Friday afternoon, life-long resident, and now long time Mayor Pat Fiacco welcomed Run The Dream to the City of Regina.  As a marathon runner, boxer, and Olympic boxing referee, Mayor Fiacco was quite knowledgeable about what it takes to commit to this undertaking.  Very impressed by how personable he was!
Theresa Savaria, Executive Director of the Regina Autism Resource Centre was there as well to greet the dream.  A lot of challenges exist in this province for those who live with Autism Spectrum Disorders and I thank Theresa for sharing some experiences with me.  I also thank Pamela Cowan of the Regina Leader Post for making her deadline and publishing the story in Saturday's paper!

I'd like to introduce everyone to Leland Kreklewich, a 24 year old resident of Saskatoon, who was diagnosed with Aspergers (a form of ASD) at a young age and whose parents sought out whatever supports and services were available so that Leland could live an independent lifestyle.  Leland e-mailed me earlier last week, and coincidentally I was visiting Saskatoon (250kms north of Regina) on another matter, so we met up and shared stories.  Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) is very lucky to have an employee who loves his job of auditing companies.

One last special thanks to the individual who wished to remain anonymous, but wanted Run The Dream to experience some Saskatchewan Roughrider football, by giving us two tickets to Sunday's game against the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  It was a game full of excitement and came down to 55-yard field goal miss by Hamilton for Saskatchewan to hold onto a 30-29 victory! Could definitely feel the Green Pride!

The Dream Continues....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kilometre 6,000...Sing Another Prairie Tune....

Can you guess who sings the lyric from the latter part of today's blog title? While you are thinking about that or googling it I thought I'd let you know that at 6pm yesterday the 6,000 km mark was achieved just past a road leading to Summerberry, SK! Hard to believe there is only 2,000 kms left to go. 75% done!
Moosemin, Wapella, Whitewood, Grenfell, Wolseley and Indian Head are all the towns I've been running through over the past few days along the Trans-Canada Highway. What is different about the prairie running experience then anywhere else in the country is how to keep the mind stimulated. While running, there are not many hills, road signs or markers to project a mental kilometer tally. At times, it doesn't feel as though I am moving forward. To combat this, many of the towns have grain elevators dating back to the late 1800's when the railway was built. These are usually seen about 10-15 kms in the horizon, which helps give me an indication of how far I've run or how much farther I've got to go. Otherwise, every 100 metres I'd be stuck counting hydro poles!
Although I can't see it yet- Regina is somewhere in the horizon!

FYI- The song lyric belongs to The Guess Who- Running Back to Saskatoon.

The Dream Continues....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Saskatchewan Style!!....

If you take a look at the Farmer's Almanac, it usually predicts a snowstorm, in Saskatchewan, before Halloween. This year, I guess it decided to come one calender holiday sooner! Admittedly being obsessive compulsive about the Weather Channel- the predictions, the anticipation, then the event- 15 cms of snow and sub-zero temperatures here in Whitewood, SK. Even Newfoundland and Labrador weather looked more promising and apparently I hear people were out golfing back in Southern Ontario.
I arrived at the Saskatchewan border on Saturday and ran to Moosemin yesterday before the freezing rain came. The snow is supposed to disappear by the time I start running again tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am going to take the opportunity to explore the roads I don't run on. Maybe go make some snowballs in the hay fields? Hey, that would be a new Run The Dream first! We'll see!
Happy Thanksgiving Saskatchewan Style!

And most importantly, Happy 25th Birthday Alex! I bet you won't ever forget how you spent your 25th for a long, long time!

The Dream Continues....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Prairie Pride....

Endlessly flat, humbling encounters and another province almost complete!
After being in Ontario for so long, the Manitoba experience happened in a blink of an eye. 10 running days, a stop in Winnipeg, a sleepover in Portage La Prairie, Carberry, Brandon, Virden and out of nowhere (okay that's a lie because nothing sneaks up on you in the Prairies) I am expecting a sign saying Welcome To Saskatchewan! We'll talk about the next province on Monday.
Time to pause, rewind, and review a few highlights of the week. Firstly, to become more lean, mean, efficient, and environmentally friendly, the roadcrew now consists of Ms. Alex Bittner and I. We bid a fond farewell to Mr. Derek Lowry as he fulfilled his self-conscripted escort duty. Three weeks seems to be the above normal escort duty turnover rate. Derek you will be missed! We also bid farewell to our Purolator vehicle. It was short, but sweet, to feel part of the Purolator team. We'd often get waves from other Purolator drivers or people asking us to deliver packages by 9am the next morning.
It was a fast paced week but I'd like to thank the Mayor of Carberry, Wayne Blair, for not only meeting with Alex and I but taking us out to dinner. Many stories were shared about his experiences and our experiences. I'd also like to thank Jessica and Ron Wallace for tracking me down in Portage La Prairie, at the Canad Inn, and sharing the experiences of raising Colby, their autistic son. And another thank you to the Deputy Mayor of Virden, Roy Potter, for greeting us in Virden.

The Dream Continues....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ode to Terry Robinson......

"Hey Terry, I've decided that next year is going to be the year I am running across Canada!!"
Terry puts down his coffee......
"I am coming with you... How about I wheelchair from Ottawa to Winnipeg. I'll take three months off work."During that moment I did not realize how much this conversation would change my perspective on life. Were we naive? Were we wishful thinkers? Were we dreaming?...."Dream as though you've never failed"...."Dream as though you've never failed"...."DREAM AS THOUGH YOU'VE NEVER FAILED!!"

The more you hang around Terry Robinson the more you realize you are in the presence of a rare specimen of a human being. He is different. He is unique. He has turned what many of us call obstacles, into opportunities. He does not only dream, but achieves! With advanced research, services and support for those affected by Cerebral Palsy (CP), and public education, Terry has turned the disability into an ability- An ability to give Hope to others! He has all the characteristics of a Canadian Hero! I feel very privileged to witness another person's dream from beginning to end. Congrats Terry!!!In the months and years to come hopefully many of you will meet Terry and listen to his stories. There were days that were hot, dry, wet, cold, hilly, flat, straight, calm and windy. I am sure Terry would agree that no day was perfect, but we worked with what we had and we did it!
Special thanks to 'Terry's Angels'- Ruth (1st from the left) and Jodi (2nd from the left) whose selfless support of early morning and late nights, escorting Terry and I at 10 km/hr across Ontario (2700 kms) has made this achievement possible!

Other thank yous to Medichair and Invacare for donating a new wheelchair along with parts and service, and also to Purolator for donating the Econoline Van to make the transportation needs possible. A true team effort!

The question still remains- Paralympics 1988, 1992 and 1996; Terry's Trek 2008;....What is next for Terry Robinson to dream...and achieve!

Dream as though you've never failed! Even you'll be surprised at what you can achieve and the legacy you'll leave behind!

Viva La Vida...Live Life...Life Lives On.... Congrats Terry!  Could not have done it without you!

The Dream Continues.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Warm Winnipeg Welcome....

"Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe." -Gail Devers

Winnipeg= Winter-peg?? We must have arrived too soon.....

Last Friday, was another jam packed day. In the morning, Terry and I were invited to Inkster School to speak about our experiences. In addition to the Preschool to Grade 8 classes, Inkster School provides autism services in a one-on-one classroom setting. Thank you to Principal, Sandy Intrater, the students, and teachers for welcoming Run The Dream.
After the assembly and tour of the school Terry and I made our way to St. Amant Centre. St. Amant is a facility which is dedicated to excellence and leadership in care, education and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Thank you to Carl Stephens, President and CEO; Daniela Fazzio, a representative from the ABA program; Nicole Koswin, Executive Director of the St. Amant Foundation; and Michelle Bailey, Director of Communications for welcoming Run The Dream to the centre and for sharing their history and objectives for the future with us.

Unfortunately, Premier Gary Doer was unavailable, but he did send us his personal regrets from the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), for Burrows, Mr. Doug Martindale, who met with Terry and I on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature.
On Saturday, Terry and I had the privilege of being the "Grand Marshalls" for the Second Annual Autism Awareness Walkathon at Kildonan Park.

This morning, City-TV's Breakfast Television invited me to come in and talk about Run The Dream. Jon Ljungberg, BT Host, and an uncle of an autistic child, shared his experiences with the viewership, as well as promoting the objectives of Run The Dream.

Now for some happy and sad news- At 11am I left solo from Winnipeg City Hall. This is the end of Terry's Trek, from Ottawa to Winnipeg- over 2700 kms in 3 months. Congrats Terry!!! A blog tribute to Terry is to come!

The Dream Continues.....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Autism Awareness Month and Winnipeg Arrival!!.....

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a neurological with no known specific cause(s).
  • In Canada, 1 in 165 children are born with ASD (Ten years ago that number was 1 in 1000)
  • There are approximately 200,000 Canadians living with ASD, affecting the lives of many families.
  • In most provinces, many treatments, such as Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) can cost between $50,000-$70,000 and are not covered by universal health insurance.
  • Autism is a lifelong issue- For those living with ASD, their families and our country.
Over the course of 6 months and 5,500 kms the many sentiments I have received from those affected, their families, the support and service providers, many politicians, many businesses and many others who dream of a more inclusive society is that:
  • There is a greater need for research into Autism;
  • A greater need for support and services for those affected by ASD and there families;
  • A greater need for public education about ASD;
  • A National Autism Strategy (similar to other health related issues); and
  • ACTION from someone other then the children and families who deal with the issue 24/7
Hello Winnipeg!  This morning, at 8:30am Terry and I run and rolled from the Perimeter Highway of Winnipeg to City Hall (about 20kms) where we were met by Mayor Sam Katz and Sandra McKay, Autism Society Manitoba.
In the afternoon,  Terry and I were invited to Sturgeon Heights Collegiate as part of there first ever Pep Rally.  It was great that the weather co-operated!  Special thanks to Marnie and Larry Wachs for including us in the festivities,  as well as all the students, sports teams, cheerleaders and band for making it a lively event!

More events in Winnipeg are happening this weekend....I'll keep you updated real soon...

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