Today was a big one for Max’s Big Ride, not only in terms of kilometers to travel, but we had some very important engagements lined up in Toronto and Mississauga, and to make sure he could arrive on time Andrew got on the road at around 5am. He encountered some early excitement on the trail: deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and even a beaver were out and about – it was a pity Max was still in bed at the hotel as he would have gotten a kick out of seeing so much wildlife.
The kids and I got a bit of a sleep in, but we still had to be out the door by 9:30am to make sure we beat the big city traffic. Thankfully everybody cooperated and I managed to check out on schedule. On the drive in, Max and I played some pretty complicated games of Lego Ninjago and Dinotrux. Max was in charge of the rules and apparently I had no idea how to play, despite my best efforts.
Our first meeting for the day was at noon at Toronto’s Sugar Beach. PR company Cohn & Wolfe had organized a media gathering and Toronto Mayor, John Tory, was to attend to hear all about the ride and to meet Max. It was wonderful to have an event scheduled and to have had nothing to do with setting it up - and absolutely everything had been taken care of! In addition to the mayor, Cohn & Wolfe had arranged for MP Adam Vaughan to come along and present us with a letter of support from his office, Toronto ice-cream company Booyah Inc donated 50 free ice-cream sandwiches to the crowd (and they were delicious!), Corus Entertainment donated a big bag of awesome swag for Max, newly established Duchenne advocacy group 'Stand for Duchenne' was in attendance, I was given a large stash of MBR postcards to hand out to passers by, and of course there was also print and television media there to capture everything that was going on. If only we had a PR company to help out in every town!
The excitement built as we all gathered about in the sunshine awaiting the arrival of the mayor. Max's face had been wiped clean and he had received his brief to be nice to 'the king of the city', and when Mr. Tory eventually came into view along the boardwalk, I was told by a friend that he was the guy in the red tie (not that I needed this pointed out to me, of course). It turned out to be a fairly informal engagement. Mayor Tory chatted to Andrew at length, he gave Max an ice cream, he spoke to the members of Stand for Duchenne, and at a couple of points he even chatted to me! He has a three week old grandchild and was fascinated to see Isla and how big she was at just a couple of months older. After about half an hour, it was time for him to go to his next meeting, so our gathering on the beachfront slowly dispersed. Aside from having enjoyed the amazing ice creams, we all felt so pleased that yet another bright light had been shone on our cause and that the event would help to spread the word about Duchenne even further.
There was no time for rest after the Toronto event and we all hurriedly pushed on to our next destination where an arrival party had been planned by Andrew's co-workers at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. A huge event had been planned the year before, so we weren't sure what to expect this time around, but we were once again awestruck to see a huge gathering of students and staff, as well as a Mississauga Fire Department truck on campus to greet us. Signs had been made, Max was given more presents (we have one seriously spoilt kid on our hands) and the crowd cheered as Andrew and Max rolled in on the cargo bike, bringing their second last day on the road to an end. Best of all for Max was the attention he got from the students when the speeches were over. It's so important to us that he gets a chance to play and have some fun on the ride, and this was a definite highlight for him. He had a large group of people playing frisbee, hide and seek and tag with him - a dream come true for our boy who is always looking for opportunities to burn off some energy.
So Day 6 was a pretty amazing day for all of us, and we once again felt extremely appreciative of the support we had been shown from those around us. It was a very early night back at the hotel - Andrew had been up since before dawn and tomorrow was the last day of the ride and as usual, we had a lot of exciting things to look forward to. For me it was very hard to believe that it was almost over!