Throughout our lives, many days can look the same, but July 11 was a stand-out, says Review contributor Melanie Willard, who not only wrote this story, but in a way — is a part of it.
From the Rock to the Rockies, area teachers cycling 7,600 kilometers across Canada to raise awareness and funds for youth mental health at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Ontario. Nancy Newman, Aaryn Coutts, Kevin McMillan and James Carson began their journey on July 1 in Cape Spear, NF and spent their 15th overnight night out of 56 staying in Alexandria, before continuing to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Willard had the honour of being their local host for the day with various residents and businesses who made every effort to give them a warm Glengarry welcome. They were first greeted into town with homemade lemonades donated by the Quirky Carrot, and then there was an Alexandria OPP and Glengarry Fire Department escort into town which truly boosted their spirits.
Later, the North Glengarry Restaurant generously fueled the athletes by providing meals on the house, after a long and wet day on the road. Other local sponsors included Tim Hortons, which donated a gift card to the team, and there were donations for fuel by Decoste Realty, Glengarry Evergreen Farms and Dr. Suzanne Filion.
As teachers, they are sacrificing their summer holidays to be on the road but their biggest challenge so far doesn’t appear to be a physical one.
“Being away from my family for seven weeks, I find myself missing my wife and kids tremendously especially, since it’s also their summer holiday,” said driver James Carson.
Students from her class and another local high school gave cyclist Nancy Newman post-it notes with encouraging words for each day of her trek. “Every night as I go to bed, I open these uplifting notes from my students. I even read a couple from students who shared their personal stories and how they were helped by the mental health services at the Barrie Hospital. A heart-warming reminder of why we are doing what we’re doing,” said Newman.
As educators, they are motivated to help youth, as they see first-hand the challenges some students face, including mental health.
To follow their journey, visit their Facebook page @fromtherocktotherockies.
To donate please visit: www.fromtherocktotherockies.com
In 2016 she wrote her first book Dare to be Raw, which is her true story of triumph over tragedy.Willard's book is available at The Review or through her website.
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