Saturday, 4 July 2015

Max's Big Ride is Welcomed into Tweed

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015 what a crazy busy day!  This was the day my baby girl (OK she's not really 'the baby', but she is my oldest little girl, and will always be my little baby) graduated from public school.  It was an event that had been very stressful in all of it's preparations, as any of you with 14 year old girls graduating already know.  Everything had to be perfect.  This also happened to be the day that Max and Andrew officially arrived into Tweed.
    The night before we had hosted Andrew, Kerri, Jean, Peter of course the adorable little man of hour Max.  They were the loveliest people.  I had been a little nervous about their visit.  What if they hated us, what if we hated them?  I had nothing to fear, because at least on the surface they were a family very much like our own, well with the exception of being physically fit and active.  They were just so lovely.  Near the end of the evening, Jean pulled me aside and asked me to come to their car, there was something that she needed my assistance with.  In the trunk of the car was a box full of "Max's Big Ride" shirts.  They were just beautiful.  Keri had designed the shirts and originally she screen printed them all... WOW.  They had a shirt for each of us as a gift.  I was so take aback, but so grateful.
    Wednesday all of the kids proudly wore their brand new "Max's Big Ride" T-shirts to school.  They were so proud of them, and knew that their classmates would be jealous.  Leading up to Max's big ride, both Riley and Rowan's amazing teachers (Mrs. Cassidy and Mrs. Adams) had talked about Max's Big Ride.  They had watched videos together on the smartboard.  Both classes had made colourful posters to be put up (by Christopher) along the Trans Canada Trail to encourage Max and Andrew and to give them a hug from the children of Tweed.  The twins had come home excitedly the day that they made their posters.  Rowan's class was collecting quarters for Max to buy ice-cream,  he was such a proud boy.  Christopher had gone that morning when he dropped the kids at school and collected the colourful posters and put them along the trail leading into Tweed.
    You may be wondering why Wednesday was Max's big welcome to Tweed, when Tuesday night we had hosted them for dinner and we live in Tweed.  Tuesday was their trip from Perth, Ontario to Arden, Ontario.  Arden is beautiful, and wild, but not terribly populated, so their plan was to drive into the thriving metropolis of Tweed (she says tongue in cheek) and stay at Trudeau Park for the night which had been generously donated to them for two nights by Casey Trudeau.  So although they arrived in Tweed Tuesday night, they did not officially arrive in Tweed until Wednesday afternoon.  I had suggested to Andrew that he  could easily just sit back Wednesday and relax, no one really knew that he had or had not ridden the trail from Arden to Tweed.  His response was one that you would expect from a man of substance "I would know and Max would know".
    Christopher had been working his butt off for weeks trying to bring attention to Andrew and Max.  He had been in nearly daily conversations with locals wanting to know what they could do to help, and what time Max would arrive into Tweed.  He had travelled the trail to put up the signs, he had spread the word, there was nothing left for him to do but just wait and see the culmination of his efforts.
    In the afternoon of Wednesday I picked Grace up early from school so that we could get her ready for her graduation.  Shortly after beginning work on beautifying my already beautiful daughter I had to stop and get the rest of the kids, and a bunch of their friends.  All of the kids wanted to go down to the park and see Max (forget about his exhausted Dad, Max was adorable and the star of the show). Grace pleaded that she wanted to go to, but really there was just not enough time for her to get ready, and see Max.  While I was waiting for the kids in the school office, one of Riley's friends, Jenna called me over "Mrs. Lindsay,  Mrs. Lindsay, please don't forget to take this jar."  There on the desk of the school office was a jar that had been painstakingly decorated by Jenna.  It had brightly coloured wording that said "Donations for Max's Big Ride" she had also done her research about the terrible disease that Max and Andrew were riding to obliterate, and had included information about Duchennes, and also the Max's Big Ride website  Inside the clear glass jar was change, loonies, toonies, quarters.  I could feel my throat close up a little, the tears try to break through.  People complain about this generation, but this generation, the generation that includes my children and their friends, they are a generation to be proud of.  This is a group of children who are being fostered by the people around them to be good, caring, kind people.  This generation is pretty awesome!
    With my last child loaded into the already filled to bursting minivan I headed down to the Memorial Park so that the kids could see Max.  Riley and her friend Amelia had made a beautiful banner with brightly coloured letters to welcome Max.  The two girls were so excited to share their hard I work.  Christopher had ridden the trail an hour or so ahead so that he could meet the biking team and welcome them (honestly I think the just wanted to see their reaction to the kid's signs).  As I drove into the park, I was awestruck.  There waiting excitedly for the guests of honour were countless people.  The entire school population of St. Carthagh's Separate School were down at the park, oozing excitement.  Behind the kids was one of our towns big red firetrucks, fireman at the ready with siren.  The kids in front of the truck had a huge banner to welcome Max and Andrew.  Several of the town councilors, including our mayor were there, patiently waiting.  Many of the local service clubs, if not all were down there, some with donations in hand.  Many parents had done the same as us and pulled their children from school so that they could be a part of the welcome party.  As I sat there in stunned silence, Riley put her little face into the window,  breaking the spell "Hey Mom, there's Max's Mom and Grandma,  they are really crying Mom." No sooner had she said that when down the sidewalk glided Andrew with Max in his carrier.  Andrew's face wore a look of overwhelmed gratitude.  Shortly after Christopher and Andrew's Dad Peter arrived.  Peter's face very much resembled the look of his son.  When Christopher parked, I left the kids with him to go back to Grace  I was so glad that I could have witnessed this.
    The kids and Christopher arrived home that afternoon, aglow with excitement and pride.  Rowan was most proud of that fact that when he looked into Max's carrier, he Max holding the Transformer toy that he had given him only the night before.  Christopher said that Andrew had pulled Max out of the carrier and had taken his picture in front of every single poster.  Peter was visibly touched.  Such a small gesture had meant so much.
    600 Kms of road, most unpaved and some unfit to drive and Max and his family are now home in Hamilton.  I have to imagine that Andrew may still very well be icing his feet and legs, and possibly bum depending on how good his bike seat was.  They left Ottawa on Father's Day and they traveled traveled approximately 50 km a day for 11 days.  They fought the elements, flooded paths, deer flies and I'm going to guess exhaustion.  They ended their ride on Canada Day in their home of Hamilton. That amazing group of dedicated, loving family members have raised over 50 thousand dollars for muscular dystrophy research.  That is love.  That is a group of superheros cleverly disguised as mere mortals.  I am so proud to say that I met them.

    You can still buy the gorgeous Max's Big Ride T-shirts for only $25 for adults and $20 for youth and children's sizes.  You get a stunning T, and at the same time you get to kick the butt of Duchenne Muscular dystrophy.

    You can also make a donation or find out more information at 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Max's Big Ride to Tweed

    A while back Christopher's cousin Ted emailed him to let him know that a man named Andrew and his son Max were going to be coming through Tweed on their bike ride from Ottawa to Hamilton on the Trans Canada Trail.  You may remember my shout out to Ted and his wife Heather....
Ted and Heather have organised "Eric's Amazing Race" for a number of years now.  Eric is Heather's nephew and he suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  They both tirelessly support Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.  I'm not so certain that the two of them will not fund a cure for this horrible disease that steals from little boys.

    Christopher began by looking at Andrew's website .  I think that there was something that he connected to.  I personally cannot imagine the challenge that they go through.  I too would want to fight for all I'm worth to find a cure, and yet I so admire their courage.   Although we cannot relate to our child having a debilitating disease, we can relate to the struggle of having an ill/ injured child.  Once upon a time we had a strong boy who was big for his age, rarely sick.  It all changed on a dark country road.  That once strong boy who had in his 9 years had one antibiotic was soon fighting for his life.  It was Christopher who sat vigil beside Gabe's bed in the ICU.  It was him who thought the worst, but prayed for the best.  I think that if  he could have he would have given Gabe any strength he could, instead all he could do is hold that not so little hand that was not hooked up to wires and tubes.  I think that when Christopher read about Andrew and his family's fight to save Max, there was a fatherly connection, a feeling of sameness.  I think that it is most men's belief that it is their job to protect their families and when they cannot protect them them they feel powerless.  I think that it was Andrew's drive to do "something" for his little boy that touched Christopher.

    Christopher soon rolled up his sleeves and began to dig in.  He got in touch with our mayor, the local service clubs, the local schools.  I am really proud to say that Tweed came to the plate, like I knew they would.  I have long bragged about this beautiful little piece of paradise that I live in, but once again my community has risen to my bragging!  Christopher began posting almost daily updates about Max's Big Ride.  Soon people from the community began to ask how they could get involved.  Our mayor was Jo- Anne Albert was AMAZING, as was our Community Development Officer Rachelle Hardesty.  Soon Vito's our local pizza place donated dinner to Andrew and his family.  Tweed Elementary School in combination with our local Kiwanis club held a barbecue to raise money for Duchenne research.  St. Carthagh's School made plans to be at the park to greet Max.  It was amazing!  Christopher became a man obsessed.  He called this "A big Hug for Max from Tweed".  
    Early on in all of this I suggested to Christopher that he should invite Andrew and his family for dinner at our house.  They would be so full of fast food and food on the run that they might welcome a more relaxed environment.  Let me begin by saying that this is completely outside of my comfort zone.  I am not in the habit of inviting strangers into my home, I have NEVER done this!  It just seemed like the right thing to do, it wasn't until I was frantically cleaning that it occurred to me that I have invited perfect strangers to my home. The day of Max's big ride had finally arrived.  I had made salads and hamburger patties ahead, everything was ready.  Unfortunately Tuesday was a nightmarish ride for Max and Andrew.  They had run into flooded trails, and many set backs. They had texted Christopher from the trail to say that they would be late.  Christopher told them we understood if they were exhausted and would like to bow out of dinner, but that we could easily wait dinner for them.
   At 7:00 pm four exhausted looking adults and one adorable little blond boy arrived at our house.  In the beginning it was a little awkward, but I was glad of it.  It was apparent that we were not accustomed to inviting strangers into our home, and they were not accustomed to accepting offers for dinner from strangers.  It was that that made me much more comfortable.  These were really, really nice and interesting people.  We fell instantly in love Max.  As is usually the case, the kids broke the ice.  Rowan brought down his huge overflowing container of superheros and instantly Max was at ease, which then allowed the rest of us to become a little more at ease (or at least as at ease as strangers meeting for the first time could be).
    In the end I was so glad that we had invited these amazing human beings into our home, and into our lives.  They were the loveliest people.  Andrew and Max receive all of the attention, but the unsung heroes are Kerri (Andrew's wife), and Andrew's parents Jean and Peter.  Kerri, Jean and Peter are the ones who get the food, and set it up.  They are the ones who co-ordinated, who worried, who were the support team in every sense of the word.  If it looked like Andrew  needed some moral support, Peter would hop on a bike and ride alongside, playing the role of Grandpa extra-ordinary.
   When our guests who had entered our home strangers and left as friends where on their way.  We all had this wonderful feeling of lightness.  We had offered a very simple gesture, it really was nothing really.  They were so appreciative, that I was almost embarrassed because of how little we did.  I was also really proud of my children.  The girls helped out tremendously bringing out food, and getting drinks, cleaning up.  I was so proud of them.  Rowan was my hero that night.  Rowan who is mild mannered and does not like the spotlight shared his toys, and his heart.  He got right down on Max's level and became a little boy's idol if only for a few hours.  When it was time for them to leave Rowan gave Max one of the toys that Max's had fallen in love with.  Rowan does not give things away, this was amazing.
    Our gesture was so small.  It was small and yet at the same it was huge.  It was huge because we were teaching our children by example.  By opening our home we were showing our children how easy it was it is to make a difference in the lives of others.  They also saw the rewards for such a small gesture of kindness.  It was a privilege to be apart of history, in our small, small way.  It was an honour to lighten their heavy, heavy load if only for a tiny bit of time.

More to come on Max's big ride.......