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.......

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