After the exhausting demands of yesterday, what we all wanted – and needed – was a sleep in this morning. The media had other plans however, so at 5.30am the alarms went off and it was all hands on deck to get both Andrew and Max out the door and on the road for an early morning radio interview in Toronto.
The interview was with Indie88, and this time Max would be joining Andrew in the studio and making his radio debut – a nervous prospect for the whole family as we wondered what gems our 4 year old would decide to thrill the DJs with today. Thankfully they caught him at a mature moment and he talked about the trucks and deer he’d seen en route, rather than randomly throwing in references to ‘toots’ or ‘butts’ which all kids his age seem to find so hilarious. Big sighs of relief all round.
The riders and the support team congregated in Toronto after the interview. It was still only 9.30am and our next engagement wasn’t until 3pm at Andrew’s at workplace at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), just 28kms away. With time to kill, we headed out to Port Credit and met up again for coffee, a play in the park, burritos, and lots and lots of waiting. Andrew had company on this portion of today’s ride – a fellow employee and bike enthusiast from UTM – and we were also joined by one of Max’s classmates, Max CB, and his mum, Kelly. The weather wasn’t great and it felt like a very long day, but at least ‘Max S’ had some company his own age for the afternoon.
Finally, the time came to head up to the university. Everybody was feeling a little drained, but the second we entered the campus we were greeted by UTM Campus Police who advised us we’d be escorted into the main reception area with sirens and flashing lights. Our spirits immediately lifted. We formed a convoy behind the police vehicle and were led to yet another incredible scene. Hundreds of people were gathered around an enormous ice cream truck that had been brought in especially for Max – every kid’s dream! Staff, students, friends and masses of children from university camp were holding dozens of posters and chanting ‘go Max, go Max’ as an emotional Andrew cycled our boy into the centre of it all. There were speeches and an interview, and most memorable for me was the opportunity to meet some of Andrew’s colleagues that I’ve heard so much about over the last year. He has thoroughly enjoyed working at UTM and has formed some strong relationships during his time there, and judging by the effort that had been made to organize this greeting, it was obvious that his coworkers think he’s okay too. We chatted with the Vice President of the University, Professor Deep Saini, who had also come out to welcome us and tell us he thought we were dealing with a difficult situation very well. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the excitement and fun happening around us, but comments like that are a sobering reminder of the reason we’re on this adventure in the first place, and we’d all swap the sirens, cheers, posters and ice cream for a Max without DMD in the blink of an eye.
As the festivities were wrapping up, our weary crew packed up and shipped out to our hotel. We were staying at Homewood Suites for our final night on the road, and they made sure that it was an unforgettable experience. We were greeted by the hotel mascot, Lewis the Duck, who gave gifts and hugs to Max who is still the just the right age to get a real kick out of a person dressed up in a huge, fluffy duck outfit. He loved it! There was also a card in our room signed by all the staff at the hotel, and an enormous gift basket filled with tasty morsels and thoughtful items for us all to enjoy. We were continually being amazed by the number of people thanking us for choosing them, when we honestly couldn’t be more grateful for everything that has been done along the way to make us feel special.
Tomorrow was going to be our final day on the road – a strange feeling for all of us to think that it was all coming to an end after such an intense 10 days. We got an early night because tomorrow’s Canada Day finish was looking to be the biggest day yet.