Day # 97 – August 24th, 1995
(Ed’s note: On the day we reached Brantford in 1995, it was what I would call a pretty routine day on the road. Things went smoothly even if we didn’t raise a lot of money along the road. When we started our journey back in May, I knew there would be a lot of days like this one—days that required we put in the time, log the distance and do all the things that are necessary when you are trying to launch something new. In the years since that summer when we crossed Ontario, things have changed. Jesse’s Journey has grown to be Canada’s leader in funding research in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Thousands of people have helped make this happen. If you are among that group – I thank you more than you will ever know. And I am well aware that we still have a lot of work to do in making a difference in the lives of boys just like Jesse.
I’m a volunteer at Jesse’s Journey and over the past 25-years, I have spoken on hundreds of occasions and here’s something I have noticed but never shared. There have been thousands of people who have spoken to me privately at these events and they have expressed admiration for what Jesse and I accomplished. While this is nice to hear, we weren’t seeking recognition. This was, and is, a fundraising project. And yet, thousands of these same people have quietly indicated to me that they have never made a donation to Jesse’s Journey.
I know that in the early days it wasn’t easy to make a donation (keep in mind that when Jesse and I crossed Ontario and when I crossed Canada – we did that without a website.) Today there is a website and you can find it at www.jessesjourney.com Making a donation is now very easy to do. And there are lots of options when it comes to what you might want to do. You’ll find them on the website, along with details about the research projects you will be helping to fund. That’s what Jesse’s Journey does — it funds research.
If you have never made a donation before, please give this a thought. And keep this in mind. If everyone in Canada donated a dollar, Jesse’s Journey would be able to fund every Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy project on earth. And when we reach that point and find a treatment and eventually a cure, you can proudly look at Jesse’s Journey and say to yourself, “I helped build that.” Jesse, who gave everything he had to what we were doing in that long, hot summer, would be very proud of you. And so will I.)
We started our day back on the road just east of Paris heading to Brantford. The air temperature is very comfortable and it’s a sunny day and perfect for what we are doing. The road here has very little shoulder, so I am glad we have OPP help in keeping the traffic manageable. Among those who have joined us on the road today is Janice Zolf, a long-time hard-working friend who is the entertainment reporter at Channel 10. When we get to the edge of Brantford, the firefighters join us and do a boot drive for us all the way to our noon hour reception. The noon hour thing is great with lots of ordinary stopping to make a donation. A lady sings “Wind Beneath My Wings” and Jesse and I get to relax a bit while cameraman Ron Schistad and reporter Bob Smith do some interviews. My old friend from public school John Guy stops to say hello and later in the day, Brian Mears, another old public-school chum stops by with his wife Carol who I also went to school with. Brian gives me a cheque and says, “there’s a dollar for every goal I scored against you as a kid.” Lunch is at McDonalds and then we head out toward Cambridge, making it to Glen Morris Road at the end of our day. We head back into Brantford and go to a dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall. I have an opportunity to talk with Chris Friel, the 27-year-old mayor of Brantford. After dinner I spoke and thanked all the people who volunteered and who helped make the day a success. Jesse was given an autographed Wayne Gretzky picture and the group in Brantford also took care of our accommodation. Bad news is that I have lost my glasses somewhere along the way. Tomorrow it’s Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo. It will be one more day and a lot more steps in building what I intend to see through for Jesse and all those boys just like him.