June 19th, 2007
Today I didn’t mind waking up at 6:30 am. I knew the day was going to be jammed packed, but I was looking forward to every minute. I started the morning with a live phone interview with Bob FM in Kingston. It was a great segment and I thought it went well. Hopefully some of you heard it, too! The crew from Bob FM had some good questions and spent a lot of time with me on the air.
Shortly after getting off that call, I got a hold of Big G at Kix 102.7 in Kingston. I was happy about getting a spot on this station for a couple reasons. First, Kix is apparently the most listened to station in Kingston! And secondly, I’m a country boy. So it was nice to be on a country station. I was lucky enough to meet Big G yesterday when I was at Telus Tyroute, and he had asked me to call in today. Without hesitation, I jumped at the opportunity to be on his station.
When I was finished with my morning interviews, I had to hustle over to R.G. Sinclair Public School where I spoke to a library full of kids ranging from grade 4 to 7. It was Monday morning, so the kids were a bit sluggish, but once I started telling them some of my adventures, they seemed to wake up. Although I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with them, I know I got through to many. When my time was up, I was presented with a donation from Steve and Kim Jamieson. And then a student in the front row shocked me. Justus stood up and offered me a donation larger than many adults do. I’m still floored when I see how aware today’s youth really are to the issues in society. They know there is a need for help. They know cancer is everywhere. And most of them have already been affected either directly or indirectly by cancer. If grown-ups and parents were all as generous and giving as the Canadian children, we would be living in eutopia. Before leaving the school, a few other donations were handed to me from Mrs. White’s grade 6/7 class, Jennifer Hamilton, Pamela Graham, another student named Connor, and a few students who’s names I didn’t get. Thank you, Sinclair! You went above and beyond my wildest dreams. When I visit schools, I never expect kids to make their own contributions. My intention is to tell them a bit about what I’m doing and hopefully influence them enough to make them realize they are all capable of changing the world.
No sooner had I stepped out the front doors of the school I rushed off to Boston Pizza on Gardiners Road. I think Corrina’s excitement was rubbing off on me. I couldn’t wait to get setup in the restaurant. As I pulled up to the front of the store, a bright neon sign caught my attention. “Come Meet Local Boy, Rich Ralph Today. Rollerblading Across Canada For Cancer Research.” There’s something weird about seeing your own name in giant neon letters on a billboard. It was awesome to see the sign sitting there, but it was almost surreal. I don’t know how busy the Boston Pizza usually gets on a Monday afternoon, but it felt like there was a pretty steady flow of people coming in. And leading the charge was none other than my favorite pig lady, Judy Osbourne! If you’ve been following my journal since Newfoundland, you’ll remember my encounter on the ferry back to Nova Scotia with Judy. She was almost as happy to see me as I was to see her. She even brought some friends with her to help contribute to my cause! People were pouring in who I haven’t seen in years!
Jan and Joanne MacDonald made an appearance. Jan was the guy who passed me on highway 2 just before Kingston while he was delivering a boat and ended up with 2 flat tires. It turns out their youngest daughter now lives in Vancouver about 2 minutes from my apartment! Sarah, I’ll be calling you when I make it home!
I’m sure I’ll forget to mention someones name, but I want thank everyone for showing up to BP. The entire Aldridge clan made it out! Wayne Campbell, friend and Optimist, was there. Sarah Donovan dragged her sister in to see me. Dan made an appearance. I think he felt he still owed me for pushing his car off the rock at my cottage a few days ago. Wendy wouldn’t have missed this for the world. Some of my parents’ neighbours, like Ray, stopped by and ordered a pizza to go. But I think my favorite guest of all was my 92 year-old Grandma! Corrina and her really hit it off. I think Corrina will be putting Grandma to work for her. They’re definitely 2 of a kind.
The afternoon went off without a hitch. A reporter from Kingston This Week took time out of his busy schedule to swing by for a quick interview and photo-op. I must admit, I have a feeling his pictures were some of the most unique so far. Make sure to grab a copy of Kingston This Week to check it out. And keep a copy for me if you think of it! Jordan from J.T. Photography was on hand to snap pictures of me with the guests. For $5, people were given a professional photo with me. Jordan even takes the time to put a beautiful border around the images before sending it to the customer. And for every $5 picture that she took, she handed $3 directly to me! When it was all said and done, Boston Pizza handed me a check for nearly $150. And that doesn’t include the straight donations! People really seemed to like the display I had setup because the total for the event end up being roughly $700 in donations. Ideally, I would have liked to give Boston Pizza more notice for my arrival. But considering I had just met Corrina the day before, I’m overwhelmed with the way things turned out. One last plug for Corrina and Boston Pizza… They have organized what they are calling a ‘kick-back’ program for me. Everyone who dines at the Boston Pizza on Gardiners Road must keep their receipt and take it to Kingston Power Play Centre and drop it in the box at the cash. Corrina will collect the receipts every month until I reach Vancouver, and Boston Pizza will donate 5% of the total to me! So please don’t forget to take your receipt to Power Play Centre. It’s on Gardiners Road, as well. And for anyone looking to sign up for indoor ball hockey, Power Play Center will be donating $50 for every registration before June 27 directly to the Skate For Hope! I don’t have all the specifics on the registrations, though. Give them a quick call to find out.
Now that my advertising is done, I can tell you what it was like to give a 3o minute presentation in a sauna. Sounds strange, but this is what happened. My dad, Wendy and I all hurried over to Collins Bay Public School where I was to speak to another group of kids. This time the age range was grade 5-8. When I walked into the school, J.J, a student and also my parents neighbour, was setting up the projector in the library for me. As the kids started filing in, I couldn’t help but ignore the afternoon sun beaming through the windows. I started my standard talk for the kids but there was one major difference. This time I had sweat rolling down my back. I stayed focussed and collected. I had a bottle of water with me which helped keep me cool, but I had finished it before I’d even shown the second picture! Thankfully, I was only there for 30 minutes, so when I was finished I could sit down and relax while kids lined up for autographs. I think I figured out why the room was so hot, though. My theory is that the teachers cranked the heaters up to drain the kids of all their energy! Am I way off on this one? Seems plausible to me! It was neat being back at Collins Bay because that was my old Elementary school. There obviously weren’t any teachers there that I had when I came through over 10 years ago, but there were some familiar faces. I was caught off guard, yet again, when the school presented me with a substantial donation for my efforts. My dad was also quite surprised. He was either overwhelmed by the unexpected response from local schools, or he’s becoming menopausal and emotional because I could here his voice crackling slightly as he thanked everyone. As comical, energetic, and stubborn as he can be, my dad has a hidden sensitive side that has really come out as this trip proceeds.
The day was finally winding down, so we thought we should swing by Kingston Truck Centre to see how the RV was looking. Hopefully the mechanics could decipher my dad’s chicken scratch. They seemed sincere in their efforts to get things done and optimistic that we’d be on the road tomorrow morning by 9am. Dad and I headed home where we were told a Greek dinner was waiting for us! We weren’t told that my Grandma and Uncle were also at home waiting. It was great to see my Uncle Ron. He’s been doing a lot of hard work for me in the Welland/Niagara area. I think if my dad ever needs to take some time off this trip, it wouldn’t be hard to convince Ron to take his place. The entire Lemon family has been anxiously awaiting my arrival to the Niagara Peninsula. And I’m just as excited to get there.
We sat on our porch relaxing when I heard an unusual jingling sound coming from the side of the house. My parents neighbour, Rick appeared out of nowhere with an smirk that I couldn’t quite read.
“This is the best I could do for a half of a day’s work,” he said as he handed me a large double-double from Tim Horton’s. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but it only took me a second to realize this was no ordinary coffee. In fact, it wasn’t coffee. It wasn’t a beverage, at all! Rick had gone around his building at work and collected donations from anyone and everyone. The coffee cup was just his container to store what added up to be over $180 in cash! What an unbelievable and unexpected end to an incredible day. At least I thought the day was over.
Shortly after my Uncle and Grandma left, there was a knock at the door. It was Mark, another member of the Cataraqui Optimist Club. He wanted to let us know that the Club was increasing their donation from $1000 to $1500! Now I need to find a dentist because I chipped a tooth when my jaw hit the floor! I still can’t believe that a non-profit organization is offering such an amazing amount of money for me. I think the Cataraqui Optimists will be issuing a challenge to all other Optimist Clubs across Canada to beat their donation. Heck, if any companies, corporations or even individuals want in on that challenge, I’d love to see the numbers climb!
Another satisfying but exhausting day. It’s tough to say what I’d rather be doing. The PR stuff is fun, and the donations really roll in when I’m out there, but I think it’s almost harder work than skating 100 km a day.