It was weekends like this that serve as a constant reminder as to why I'm glad I grew up in a small town. I decided to take the weekend off to enjoy with friends and family, however a lot has happened in the past couple of days, so I needed to write something out before I get back on the road tomorrow morning.
When I arrived at the farm on Thursday afternoon, my modus operandi immediately became to sit back and do as little as possible. In the same way that I only ever get sick when I stop working like a maniac and take a vacation, I didn't feel just how hard I'd been on my legs until I finally got off the bike and took a day off. Still, it was foolish for me to think that I'd come home and have a 'day off'. I had nearly half a day of emails, thank yous, and updates to do and of course mom & dad had a laundry list of little tasks which were best suited for the youngest Saunderson.
I told my mom that it could be nice to have a little meal with some family while I was home. In a moment of exhaustion on the phone one day, when asked who we should invite to dinner I panted out, "I dunno, everyone." My parents were never ones for hyperbole, and so Saturday night, we had enough family members together to constitute a reunion. This had my grandmother, father, mother and I, running around like mad on Saturday trying to prepare dinner for almost 30 people. Of course, given the forcast of rain, dad and I setup the entire shop with tables, chairs, a bar, and place settings, only for it to turn sunny 30 minutes before everyones' arrival and have us haul it all out to the back yard.
It was fantastic to see everyone, including some of my little cousins whom had about doubled in size since I last saw them (I now understand how easy it is to start feeling old).
This morning, my cousin Chris, my aunt Cheryl, and a handful of others organized a local get together to support the ride. I cycled from my farm to a nearby strawberry farm and met about 20 friends and family from the area who all biked from Hicks' farm into Victoria park in Souris. We even had police escort for the ~5km ride to the park. The highlight of the ride was seeing my little cousin, Keagan, riding his bike, still with training wheels, the whole way... and only complaining a couple times :-) Once we arrived at the park, there was a great turnout for a BBQ and some entertainment. I got a chance to see a throng of people from Souris, many of whom I hadn't seen since 2000, and my aunt even convinced me to get up on stage and play a couple songs.
All in all, it was a fantastic day and a great way to end my stop in Souris. Between the BBQ today, and other donations which had been collected by one of our local financial planners, Kirkup Agencies, our little community of Souris was able to raise close to $5000. I was blown away by the amazing support of this town and reminded of the strong community which I was lucky enough to grow up in.
You may have noticed on our donation website that we've broken the $10,000 mark as well! In fact, coupled with the money raised in Souris, pledges from corporate sponsors, and mail-in donations, we are now well over $20,000!!! To everyone who has been generous enough to donate, thank you so much. We still have a good way to go, so if you are still hoping to find a way to help out, please encourage friends and coworkers to check out the website, and learn more about this campaign. If you have yet to contribute and are hoping to, please use the web link in the top right hand corner or mail your donations to:
Prairie Pedal - Myeloma Canada
P.O. Box 326
Kirkland, QC H9H 0A4
One last thing I wanted to share today was regarding multiple myeloma and farming. A lot of people ask about what causes myeloma, and while little is still known as to the exact sources, studies are starting to make some links. Living on a farm his whole life, many people questioned whether some element of the lifestyle could have affected my father at all, and could be a source of danger for other farmers. My dad recently stumbled across a study done in the US which showed just that. Many pesticides have been found to increase the risk of multiple myeloma, including a Bravo 500, a fungicide he used when much younger which contains chlorothalonil: a chemical found to greatly increase chances of developing myeloma.
You'll be hard pressed to ever have any of these companies take responsibility for their products, however this is still valuable information for many farmers who have been exposed to a plethora of chemicals throughout their lives.
On that note, I think we're relatively up to date and ready to hit the road with a vengeance. I'm glad everyone is enjoying reading about this adventure as much as I'm enjoying doing it. I might have a cellular black-out through some of northern Ontario, but otherwise, I'll try to keep things entertaining, and hope to have as many random stories come out of the woodwork.