We arrived in Ottawa on July 29. We actually only rode to Stittsville about 25 km outside downtown Ottawa which I was thankful for after a late night. The last week was super busy with a number of events and I would not have changed that at all but it made for a tired few days riding. The ride to Stittsville was just over 145km. We stayed with Tom and Karen Sandor and they were fantastic hosts. Tom and Karen are Jeremy's (who rode with us to Oshawa) parents. Tom once duct taped my bike to a tree (That's a story for another blog) so I was a little worried about what might happen while staying with them (not really)but they could not have been better hosts. The ride was a little on the windy side and there was one killer hill coming out of westport but I must be more used to the wind now because I was not nearly as annoyed by it as I was heading into Regina. The hill was a nice challenge as it was gradual and then at the end was quite steep. The last part of the ride was flat and it was a nice way to end the day. After arriving at the Sandors I learned that Tom had arranged to have me interviewed by the Team 1200 TSN radio. I'm a pretty big TSN fan so this was something I was looking forward to. CTV morning live was also going to interview myself and Sean and Alison Sargent who have a 2 year old daughter, Liberty, with PKU. More on them later. It was also nice that Sarah and the kids and my sister in law Liz had followed along to Ottawa. They were staying with Uncle Pete and Aunt Rachel and their 4 kids. Once I arrived at the Sandor's Sarah and the kids came over for a visit and something quite amazing happened after that. Jonathan, my 3 year old son, was wanting to play with the kids across the street so he went and just sat at the end of the Sandor's front lawn. When the neighbour saw this she brought her 7 year old daughter over to meet Jonathan. Eventually we got talking about the ride when the neighrbours husband, Peter, arrived home. Peter also came over and we were able to tell him about the ride. Peter indicated that he would send a quick email to his company's charity committee to see if they would be interested in donating. A few hours later Peter came back over to the Sandor's and informed me that his company was going to make a 1000.00 donation to the ride, and on top of that wanted to issue a challenge to other businesses in Ottawa to match or beat their donation. The other things that happened when Peter sent that email is that he found out that another person on their charity committee has a friend who has 3 children with PKU. Thanks Peter and JEA Pension solutions for your generosity, its greatly appreciated.
The next day I was tired and had a long, not very restful but totally worth it rest day. The day started at about 6:30 with a drive down to the TSN/CTV studios for the interviews. The interviews went well as far as I could tell and Ive heard some good feedback. It was really great to have Sean and Alison on CTV as they could give a first hand account about what it was like to find out about their child having PKU and what it means for them now. The media has done a lot to help promote awareness for PKU and hopefully a lot more people know about it now than they did before. After the interviews I made my way over to city hall where Tom had arranged for me to have a tour of the mayors office and receive a certificate from the mayor. It was a really cool experience and I was glad to hear they had been following the ride. I was also able to meet city counselor Shad Qadri's staff and they gave me a nice pin and hat. Thanks so much for the support from the city of Ottawa. Georgie thanks for the tour and for all your kind words. After touring the mayors office I was off to hang out with the kids for a few hours which was great. After that John Adams and I were able to get a tour of the new born screening lab. If you have had a baby in Ontario this is where they were screened for PKU and many other things. It was interesting to see the process of how they test for the various things on the screening. I'm sure the lab tech could tell I was totally lost with all the terminology he was using but I still really enjoyed the tour. I was able to see the machine that 11 months ago would have determined that Avery was positive for PKU and it was great to meet the people working in the lab, they are all passionate about what they do and it is so important. After the tour of the lab we made our way over to the PKU clinic where I was able to meet the dietician. This was nice because I know how much Jon and Kim have felt supported by their dietician and I have heard similar stories from other parents including Sean and Alison in Ottawa so it was nice to meet their dietician at the Ottawa clinic. It was great to hear that people in the clinic were following the ride and were excited to have seen Alison and Sean on TV that morning.
After the tour of the clinic it was off to the Mill Street Pub for another fundraising and awareness event. What a great event this was. Alison and Sean you guys put on a great event and I cant thank you enough for all you have done to help make this ride a success. It was great to meet you originally in Regina and it was nice to be able to reconnect in Ottawa. The event was a great success. There were a few other families there who had children with PKU and at least one adult with PKU. There were also grandparents and a uncle of a baby just 2 weeks old that has PKU. They did what I did when they found out about the diagnosis, they looked on the internet to learn more about it and they came across the ride information and the Ottawa event info. I hope meeting Sean, Alison and the other PKU families in attendance helped you guys as you continue to learn about PKU etc. Its nice to see how people have connected in various ways at these events. This was one of the goals of the ride. In total the event raised over 7000.00 with a few expenses to be taken from that. I could not have imagined that we would almost double our goal but with the money raised in Ottawa we are very close to doing just that. Thanks to Sean, Alison and all your helpers for putting on this great night. It was nice to hear an email written by the prime ministers wife, that was totally unexpected. It was also really cool that Liberty's aunt Stephanie and her husband made a slideshow of the trip up to that point. It was fun to look back on where we had been I'm looking forward to adding to that as we continue into the east coast.
Today we rode to Lachute QC. After 28 days in Ontario we finally entered another province. It was a nice ride almost all the way on country roads. About half way we hit insane rain. Then the thunder and lightening hit. That was a little scary. Eventually, just as we were leaving Ontario the sun came out and it warmed up which was nice. Earlier in the day we had to stop for hot chocolate just to warm up. Did I mention it was July 31? Anyway the day was not without its challenges. At one point I was getting my camera out to take a picture and had not noticed that Svend had stopped ahead of me and by the time I realized it was to late and I slammed into him, went over the bars and managed to scrape the same knee I hurt before. I also wrecked a gear shifter and managed to flatten a tire in the process. We are both ok and it was not as bad as it could have been but I now need to try to find a place tomorrow to fix my bike. Luckily its a short ride to Laval so I should have some extra time. Svend will be sticking around here for a town reunion but will be catching up to us again in Quebec City. Hopefully John and I can Navigate our way there without Svend as he has been the main navigator up to this point.
Tomorrow is August 1st and the ride only has a few weeks left. I hope the momentum continues throughout the east coast. I'm really looking forward to seeing this part of the country on my bike.