Hello friends! I know you've been patiently waiting for a report on how the last couple of days went. I am going to start with the relay and then back track to the gallery opening afterwards, so bear with me! There were a ton of photos on my memory card, so I've picked the best ones to share with you. I'm going to divide them up over a series of post for the next few days because I want to try and relate how amazing this whole experience was. The photos you'll, see are mine, unless they say RHF (Rick Hansen Foundation) below. In that case, they were taken by the official photographer of the relay and are being used with permission.
Okay, so here we go!
Friday morning, I got up at 5:30 am and got ready for the big day. My sweet husband was up before me and cooked me brekki (bacon, eggs & toast) to make sure I'd be properly fueled for the day. He's my Difference Maker-he takes such good care of me.
At 6:30 am, we headed over to the Evergreen Cultural Centre, the rendez-vous point for my flight of medal bearers. We knew we were in the right place, with the shuttle van parked right outside and a welcoming sign.
Wendy, our shuttle driver and Kayla, our Medal Bearer host were there to greet us, give us our uniforms and welcome us to our big day. After all the medal bearers arrived (there were 10 of us) we had a brief meeting where Kayla & Wendy talked about Rick Hansen and why this relay was so important and then we went around the circle and shared our stories. I was a bit nervous, so I said very little. (Yeah, go figure!) In fact, I'm not even entirely sure what I said...*laughs* It's all a bit of a blur.
In my group there was an elite runner, a teacher, a politician, a woman who works with people with disabilities, a student, a woman who works for the City of Coquitlam, an Olympian, a couple people who were nominated by their employers and me.
I was medal bearer 007! Love that!
Along the route, the relay team had posted medal bearer numbers on poles to mark where our portion of the relay would start.
The relay staff were very sweet and peeled the numbers off the poles to give to each of us as a keepsake. This is mine plastered on my back, once I'd been dropped off by the shuttle in my spot.
Here's Bob, a teacher in Coquitlam at Scott Creek Middle School handing over the medal to me.
He's a lovely man and he's about to hug me here. The schools had a professional development day yesterday, so even though the kids were off, they still got up early and came to school (Bob ran right past his school) to support him. That says alot about the kind of teacher he is!
The official Rick Hansen relay medal that has made its way across Canada for the last 269 days. When it finishes its journey, it will have been on the road for a total of 273 days and been carried by 7000 Difference Makers across this great country of ours. As you can see, it's been well loved-it's quite scratched, but that only adds to its charm.
The medal, made by the Canadian Mint is almost a full pound of silver, so it's quite heavy. The imprint you can see on it is from the glove Rick wore when wheeling around the world. It's symbolic of Rick passing the medal to each and every Difference Maker along the way. I was extremely honoured to carry it.
Photo Credit: RHF
My moment! Travelling along side me was a relay escort, who was super nice and a relay endurance athlete, who was riding a hand crank bike. We chatted the whole way. Indy and my husband got to walk with me, which was really nice. There was a large motor home in front of me, where the official RHF photographer were riding. The back of the motor home flips up and open, so the photographers have a clear shot of the medal bearers, travelling behind.
Photo Credit: RHF
Tina Louise and I high-fiving as I pass the medal onto her.
Hugs! Note that the traffic is backing up-we were in the right hand lane, sandwiched for safety by the relay convoy, but the left hand lane was open to traffic, because it was morning rush hour. People were slowing down to look, so it became a parade.
You'll notice that Tina Louise has two numbers on her jacket. She ended up running a double section of the relay. (No problem for her-she's an elite runner!) Medal bearer #8 never showed up. I can't even imagine missing out on this opportunity-I'd wouldn't miss it for anything. I'd go, even if I had to drag myself there! Hopefully whomever it was is okay!
So...that's the first post on the relay. There's much more to come!