Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

Onthe Road Again – 2013

Posted: April 12, 2013 in Cycling, Personal
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Alex being Interviewed on the Ride

My brother Alex being Interviewed during the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012.

Freezing rain and ice pellets aside, it must be spring, because there were earthworms all over the bike lanes this week. Thank God for fenders.

Yes, I have finally gotten started on my 2013 cycling season. It’s pretty damp in the morning which makes it seem a lot colder than it actually is, but even so, it feels good to be on the road again. There’s just something about riding a bike that makes me feel so much younger than I feel most mornings. I turn 60 next year and a lot of mornings I feel every bit of my 59 years and then some. But this past week, riding to Guelph Little Theatre last Saturday, then to work a couple of mornings, I have felt better than I have in a long time.

Winter’s over (weather be-damned), spring is here; I’m on my bike again. Life is good.

Of course that also means that the Ride to Conquer Cancer, benefiting the Campbell Family Research Centre at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, is less than two months away (it’s happening June 8th & 9th). The next few weeks will be very busy as Team Kortright ramps up its fundraising efforts. Stay tuned for more info on these efforts in the days to come.

This week however, I am very pleased to announce that we have two new team members this year; Dr. Phil McAlister and Les Ferrier.

Many of you in the Guelph area will be familiar with Dr. Phil from his Living Healthy show (available o n YouTube) and his work at Tranquil Therapeutic Solutions on Scottsdale Drive. He’s been a cyclist both on and off road for some time and it’s great to have him on board.

Les Ferrier has been a supporter of Team Kortright all along the way and has decided to ride with us in 2013. Les is now officially the oldest member of the team and brings years of cycling experience with him (he and his wife Barb spent their honeymoon cycling) and so we are very glad to

have him on the team as well. Welcome to both Les and Phil.

On the downside however, this year even more of my friends are battling with this terrible disease.

Prominent in my mind and heart when I think on what we are trying to do with the Ride to Conquer Cancer is my friend Cindi. She is just finishing up her chemo-therapy regimen and while the treatments are much milder than they were back when my brother went through it, it’s still no walk in the park. In fact, a walk in the park takes a lot out of Cindi most days (when it happens at all), but thanks to the support of her family and friends, and especially her husband Pete, the journey to healing continues. You can read her story over at their blog “Following Jesus is Hard.”

It’s because of people like Cindi, my brother, and so many others that have both won and lost their struggle with cancer that I continue to participate in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. And it’s because of the far too many people you know who have and are struggling with it that I ask you to help by making a donation and sponsoring me again this year. As in past years my goal for 2013 is to raise $2500. This is the amount each rider pl

edges to raise before they enter the Ride. With nearly 5000 riders again this year I’m sure we’ll set a new record once again.

Or maybe you haven’t sponsored me before. In that case I invite you to do so for the first time. Your donation will go to continue the research and patient support at the Princess Margaret. Last year the nearly 5000 riders rose over $16 million, the largest cycling fundraiser in Canadian history. It was a remarkable experience.

So please; follow the link to my personal Ride page and make a donation. You can donate online or print out a donation form to send in with your cheque. If you get there and it happens that my $2500 goal has been reached then I would ask you to support me by sponsoring one of the other members of Team Kortright.

Thank You and may God bless.

Dennis

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You can sponsor me with a donation at the following link or by clicking the banner in the left margin.

www.conquercancer.ca/goto/dennisgray2013

After the Ride

Posted: June 19, 2012 in Cycling, Personal
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Well, it’s been over a week and I am only just now getting around to posting about how the Ride to Conquer Cancer went this year. Gives you an idea how hectic my week has been.

That said, the Ride went just great! We all had a good time; endured some rain, met a few challenges, found new friends, sweltered in the heat, ate food, drank beer, rode a lot of miles.  Team Kortright did very well raising $19,000 out of the $18.1 million raised by the collective 4,852 riders. It was all I expected it to be and then some. There was one thing however that I did not expect.

At lunch the first day a guy with a video camera comes up to my brother Alex and I and asks us a few questions about why we were doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer. It’s not unheard of; it happened to me back in 2008, the first year of the Ride. They talk to a lot of people and then spend several weeks going through the footage and putting together the promo videos for the next years Ride. There is a ton of footage that is taken but never used, so it wasn’t that big a deal. What happened the next day however, was something different.

At lunch on Day 2 the same guy spots us from across the lawn and calls out to us. He comes over and I remind him that he already spoke to us the day before. He says that’s why he’s looking for us again. He liked the footage so much and said we had such good presence that he wanted us to record a couple of scripted sound bites for use in the promos. Right now I can’t remember exactly what we said, but he spend about 10-12 minutes taping us delivering a couple of catch phrases and an invitation or two.

Alex being Interviewed on the Ride

My brother Alex being Interviewed by video promo guy during the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012.

Alex was thrilled, grinning from ear to ear. And the video guys seemed to find him the more appealing of the two of us, of which I’m glad. I had my moment in the sun back in 2009 when I found myself part of the promo videos. I got calls from friends right across the country saying they had seen me in one or another of the ads. This year it is Alex’s turn and I couldn’t be happier. He’s an amazing guy who has always been an inspiration to his big brother. Now the whole country will get a chance to be inspired by him as well.

Once again I want to thank each and every one of you that supported Team Kortright and myself this year. You are the best of the best and we will always be grateful.

In Canada, Martin Luther King Day is all but ignored. Oh, it is mentioned on talk radio and on the news; but it is rarely forefront in our collective consciousness because it is, after all, a U.S. holiday. With it falling on a Sunday this year, yesterday I barely noticed it, being wrapped up in my duties surrounding two morning services at Kortright Church.

I am grateful then for this article by Jarrod McKenna on Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians blog. It is my hope that I will be deeply considering his message for some time to come.

Red Letter Christians » What Would MLK Do? Christians and Climate Change.

Seven Days to Go

Posted: June 4, 2011 in Cycling, Personal
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That’s right, seven days from now I will be on the road riding my Trek 7100 bicycle from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Well, actually, from the C.N.E. grounds to Mohawk College the first day, then off to Table Rock Park in Niagara on Sunday. Nevertheless, there’s only a week to go and the excitement is starting to build.

It will be strange this year; having been through cancer this past winter has altered my perspective.  I have a small concern about my energy levels, but I know I’ll make it though it may take longer. But I’m wondering what it will be like riding as a survivor. There are people I’ve met in previous years who will remember me if they see me and it will be interesting to see how they respond when they see the yellow flag and socks sported by survivors on the ride.

On the other hand seeing the hundreds of yellow flags sticking up from the crowd of 5000 riders at the starting line is a testament to the success of cancer research over the years. More and more people are surviving this terrible disease, and it’s because of research being done with dollars raised through events like the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

There is a small development on the side effects front. I was told that the radiation would kill off a bunch of the hair follicles in my face rendering my beard history. However, last week I noticed when I was saving that most of them are actually functioning again! The only ones that seem to be affected are lower down in an area I usually shave anyway when I trim my beard back. So, much to Roberta’s relief, I’m growing the beard back. She never has liked me clean shaven.

Getting back to the Ride to Conquer Cancer, I’m at the 80% mark in my fundraising and have such a short way to go to reach my goal of $2500 in donations. If everyone who sees clicks on the banner at right and contributes just $10 I’ll reach and surpass that goal with plenty to spare. So much in fact that if you go to my personal page and find I have reached my goal, please support one of the other members of Team Kortright is has not on my behalf.

I know, I’m really pushing the donation thing, but it is only Seven Days and counting!

Thanks everyone!

Shalom.

It never ceases to amaze me that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that can be so utterly stupid.

Such was the response of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs to the declaration by ‘700 Club ‘ and ‘CBN’ founder Pat Robertson that the earthquake in Haiti was another in a long line of natural disasters brought on by a “pact with the devil” Haitians made some two centuries ago.  The White House Press Secretary is absolutely right, but what bothers me is how often that something “so utterly stupid” is said by a minister of God.

There’s no denying that many times in the Old Testament God used a variety of ‘natural disasters’ to chastise one nation or another; so it is certainly understandable that many would question if God is still working that way today.  What I question however; is anyone’s ability to accurately discern which events are God in action and which are the natural consequence of a world that no longer works according to the original design? And even if you have reason to believe that a given event may, in fact, be the consequences of spiritual decisions made centuries ago, how can you possibly think saying so at a time when emotions are obviously running high can be of any help, either to the victims or to the cause of Christ?

It is just this kind of spiritual thoughtlessness that casts Christians and the gospel in a light not as a message of love and redemption, but rather one of judgment and condemnation. Daily Show host Jon Stewart actually hit the nail on the head during last night’s program. After reading a number of quotes from the Bible that spoke of the love and comfort of God, eg. “Turn to me and I will comfort you” Stewart looks straight into the camera and says to Robertson,

Out of all the things that you could draw on from your religion to bring comfort to a devastated people and region, you decided to go with, ‘Tough kitties, devil folk!’

Now I’m sure that this was not the spirit in which Robertson made the statements he made; the problem is that’s how it almost always comes across.  And while Robertson seems to have a substantial track record in this regard, he is not alone. All too often we as Christians think we have to expound on everything the scriptures have to say on any given situation we encounter, and more often than not all that’s needed is a simple, “Don’t be afraid. God Loves You!”

Throughout all of Scripture, God’s messengers most frequently begin their message to the people with these simple words, “Do not be afraid!” Do not be afraid, God will deliver you.  Do not be afraid, God will bless you.  Even while telling his disciples of the terrible things that were to come (including earthquakes) Jesus told them not to be afraid.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  – John 16:33 NIV

Now I know some of you are wondering, “Okay, but Haiti gets hit a lot. What if Robertson is right?” Well I’m wondering, does it really matter? Does why the earthquake hit let us off the hook for being compassionate? Are we called to help and encourage only those whose ancestors had their act together? I don’t think so.

I do think the Bible calls us to be the presence of Christ in this world.  And I do think that means to feed the hungry, heal the sick and mend the brokenhearted regardless of how they got into their situation. And I also think that if the children of God can’t do this without saying things that make them sound spiritually knowledgeable, but end up doing more harm than good, then maybe God’s children should be seen and not heard!

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Posted: March 3, 2009 in Theatre
Tags: ,
2009 Rayal City Ambassadors Show

2009 R0yal City Ambassadors Show

I’d like to invite you all to one of my favourite events of the year.

Every year about this time The Royal City Ambassadors put on their annual charity show.  The Ambassadors are a men’s chorus and quartet organization that promotes the performance and enjoyment four-part a cappella harmony. The natural, un-encumbered music of the human voice.

This year, as found in the title of this post, the show is called, Experiencing Technical Difficulties.” It’s a great evening of… well, why don’t I let them tell you:

“The Royal City Ambassadors are pleased to be on the stage of River Run to present their 41st annual show.  “Experiencing Technical Difficulties” will delight young and old in the audience as the chorus shares their infectious humour and love of singing.  In addition, the zany antics of this year’s guest quartet CORNERSTONE will complement a great evening!

The Ambassadors are a group of men from all walks of life who love to sing in four-part a cappella harmony.  Every Tuesday evening they gather from Guelph and surrounding communities to enjoy singing, fellowship and fun.  The Guelph Chapter is proud to raise funds annually in support of “Harmonize for Speech”.  These funds assist organizations locally and provincially to assist individuals with speech disorders.”

I’ve attended a number of these shows in the past and have always enjoyed them. None of the men are professional singers, just a bunch of regular guys; bus drivers, computer geeks, accountants, and the like, who really enjoy getting together just to sing.  And they do it very well.

The show includes not just great comedy and great songs by the chorus and it’s member quartets, but specials guests “The Cornerstones” and a late addition, the Centennial Concert Choir.

But most importantly, the show supports a very worthy cause. As mentioned above the Ambassadors sing to raise money for Harmonize for Speech, an organization that provides much needed support for those who suffer from speech disorders.  This can happen for a variety of reasons from birth defects to stroke.  They as their motto says, “We Sing That They Shall Speak.”

So if you’re going to be in the Guelph area on March 27th or 28th, follow the link below to the River Run box office and grab a few tickets for the show.  use the email link to have a member of the Ambassadors arrange to get the tickets to you.  You be glad you did!

Until next time…  Sing!


Click here to Purshase Tickets from the River Run

Click here to Get Tickets from an Ambassador

Once back out on the road we ran into a little light rain. The skies looked fairly dark in the south-east, but the predicted storms didn’t materialize. The rain stopped after about 30 minutes and then it was fairly smooth riding.

The next Pit Stop was held in the driving yard of Parkside Farms. I found the variety of places where they had arranged for these Pit Stops; libraries, Bible Camps, farms, parking lots; and everywhere the same level of support; water, Gatorade, fruit, bread, and other snacks. Each one seemed to be manned by volunteers from one of the sponsors, this one was provided by Ford. there would be one more just a dozen or so kilometers from Mohawk College manned by folks from the Globe and Mail.

On the way down into Dundas coming off the escarpment there is this really big, curvy hill. There’s a look-out point at the top of nthe hill where tourists can stop and take pictures. i remember stopping here with my parents when I was just a kid. a lot of the riders were stopping here as well. I couldn’t resist, the view from there is terrific. (Though they should clear a few of the tress back to improve the sight lines.)

I really like the one picture I took there (right). A think it kind of embodies what the experience was about, a rider having the time of his life, seeing some great things along the way, knowing they are doing good with the effort, calling home to share the experience. No, i don’t know the guy’s name. i thought about asking, but decided that having a name would make it his experience – nameless he represents us all.

I finally rolled into the overnight camp at Mohawk College about 2pm. It had taken me slightly less than 5 hours to cover the 108 km from. And to my surprise I felt only a little tired, and not at all sore. Near as I could guess from the number of bikes in the bike park vs the space available I was riding in about two-thirds back from the front of the pack. I decided that was pretty good for a middle-aged, over-weight, cyclo-commuter. I would have been happy with anything better than last.

The camp, like everything else I’d seen so far, was extremely well organized. there were food tents, massages tent, stretching exercises, and booths for some of the sponsors. The first thing was to claim my gear and find my tent. When I got to tent F24 no one else had arrived yet. I assumed by tent mate was either still out on the road or had decided to take in some of the other amenities before claiming his gear.

After storing my gear in the tent, I went back to take in the stretching class. My research told me I needed to do some major stretching to prevent soreness the next day. The routine, led by a physio-therapists, lasted about ten minutes. I then grabbed some Gatorade and headed to the showers.

The showers were great. I had wondered if we would be using the colleges athletic dept. But they had three large mobile shower trailers from a service. There were individual change and shower stalls, with plenty of hot water and lots of water pressure. It felt great. After the shower it was off for a massage. the massage therapist focused on my legs and shoulders. Once the stretching, showering, and massaging was complete I felt as if I’d cycled around the block instead of 108 km.

The next step was dinner. Like everything else I was impressed, although by now I was coming to expect it. It was obvious the people putting this thing together knew just what they were doing. Chicken, meatballs, sausage, pasta, salads, veggies and free beer. There was also live entertainment. I was glad that while I was eating a better than average jazz band was playing.

After dinner I walked around and checked out the various tents. The information tent was there to handle issues relating to the ride and the charity. IBM was there promoting the World Community Grid, a project that provide computing resources for humanitarian projects including The Ride to Conquer Cancer. Globe and Mail provided newspapers. There was even a Concierge to handle rider needs that fell outside th realm of the Ride itself.

Our friend Darby Kent brought my wife Roberta down to visit for a while. It was great to see her, though I really should have taken a picture of her and Darby on the grounds somewhere. I showed them around a bit and then we went to a local Tim Horton’s for coffee and something to eat. (Visitors could tour the grounds but all the food and drink was for riders and crew only.)

After that little trip it was back to the camp. Visitors had to be off grounds by 9pm. After Roberta and Darby left I went back to the main tent to listen to some music for a while an the packed it in. I was still the only one in my tent. Since all the riders had reported in by 7pm and all the gear had been picked up from the trucks, I could only imagine that either my tent mate had dropped out of the ride for some reason, or they had never assigned one to me to begin with.

I found myself really hoping it was the latter because the only reason for dropping out would be if he (tent mates are on the same gender) was unable to finish or some family emergency came up. I didn’t wish that on anyone. I wanted everyone who started to complete the entire ride. It seemed important that not just I finish, but everyone who started. I said a prayer for whoever he was.

As the night cooled down I lay in my tent listening to the conversations going on around me. There was a comfort in it even though I wasn’t participating. I was oddly not alone. I was surrounded by people with a common goal, a common experience, and a common passion.I remember thinking it was agreat picture of what the church should be.

But that’s a topic for another blog… Good night.