Monday, August 20, 2007

Update - Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride
For Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness

Congratulations to living liver donor Robert E. Crawford and sister-in-law recipient Marilyn Olivo-Crawford who, along with their team, successfully motorcycled across Canada July 21st to August 17th and I’m pleased to support this initiative to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation.

Robert says that access to the internet was difficult to find at times but he did his best to keep us updated. Their final report follows. For a day-to-day update of the ride from start to finish click here.

August 15th
After a good night’s sleep we got an early start out of Banff towards Kamloops. Riding through the mountains can be quite “cool” in the temperature sort of way. Marilyn & I had all our warm gear on and rain gear as well to help insolate from the chilly & damp air. The riding was great as the roads are twisty and have many turns. We kept riding and should have gotten gas outside of Glacier National Park but we didn’t. Entering into the park we asked some workers where the closest gas station was. They “thought” there was one along the Roger’s Pass or possible another 85kms away at Revelstoke. We would be running on fumes in about 60kms! While approaching the Rogers Pass we saw two guys along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. They looked like they just came off the set of the movie “Deliverance”. They waved at us and I crossed my fingers that I would not run out of gas along this part of the highway.

The gas station at Rogers Pass finally appeared and we pulled in. The gas was $1.30/Litre. By this point the temperature had warmed up enough to start the removal of some of our layers. The mountain roads continued to be great riding and we kept heading westward. The weather kept warming up each km traveled. Closer to Kamloops, Terri called ahead and confirmed our meeting location with Troy & Calinda from the Kamloops Rotary Club. Along with the Rotary people there was a large number of the “Sober Riders” motorcycle group.

The temperature in Kamloops was about 30 degrees C with clear skies and little wind. That is perfect motorcycle weather in my books. We pulled into the rest stop where we met up with all the bikers and enjoyed some cool drinks together. They were the nicest group of people you could ever hope to meet and they made us feel very welcome. The local landscape was very interesting to me and looked like the Badlands. We all sat around and talked bikes and no one was in a hurry to go anywhere. Kamloops gets very little rain and has long hot summers.

Once we were well hydrated and had put green “Organ Donation” magnets on all the bikes we started our engines. Many of the other bikes were Harleys and had a nice rumbling sound. I tried to compete, but a 4 cylinder Suzuki has more of a jet engine whine sound. We were escorted by about 15 motorcycles into Kamloops and right to our hotel. The hotel has a parking lot next door that overlooks Kamloops, where we all pulled into.

While we said our goodbyes to the other riders the hotel manager put up a “No Vacancy” sign! That was strange because the hotel parking lot had lots of empty spaces. It turned out that he didn’t like motorcycles and didn’t want us all to stay there. What a joke! We had a reservation and the president of the Rotary club checked us in and paid for our hotel rooms. We were given rooms at the back of the hotel so the other hotel patrons wouldn’t be exposed to the 3 unsavory riders. It must have been Jacob’s big smile that scared him! Maybe Marilyn, Jacob & I must have looked like we were going to cause trouble!

The night was so warm that Jacob & I went exploring until about 11:00PM. He was able to win a deck of cards at an arcade and was very happy with that prize. Ernie & Terri also walked around and Marilyn did some E-Mails. We all cranked up the A/C in our rooms and went to sleep. Nothing is scheduled until 12:00 noon the next day.

August 16th
About 11:30AM we all regrouped and looked very respectable in our “Event” good clothes. The Rotary Club was having their weekly meeting next door and we were invited to give a presentation on our campaign. Lunch was provided and we heard about all the fantastic things the Rotary Club members are involved in. After our presentation we were given 2 donation cheques; one was for our ride and the other for the BC Transplant Society. That was very nice and totally unexpected.

During the final parts of the meeting Troy & Calinda talked about how they “connected” with our team. We all felt the same way and were glad to have the opportunity to meet them and the other Rotary & Sober Rider group members. Ernie made an impromptu speech about our ride and his sister Marilyn. It was very touching and came from the heart.

We had to leave right after the meeting. The next and last stop on our Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride is Vancouver. The weather for this part of the ride was opposite to the last few days. It was very hot in Kamloops and it got colder and windier as we approached Vancouver. The highway was incredibly hilly and exciting to ride along. Some of the hills were 5km long and very steep. Jacob was busy taking pictures and enjoying the scenery.

Closer to Vancouver we hit some serious traffic and were just crawling along. It was so slow I was able to show Jacob a 4” long slug on the side of the road. Then the rain started. We were to close to our destination to care, so we rode on. Our clutch hands were getting tired from the stop & go and were glad to exit the highway onto Hastings Street.

Traveling along East Hasting was a real shock to our entire team. There are so many people who need help in that area. We had never experienced this situation on this scale before, even in the poorest sections of Toronto. We rode on and were thankful of our own blessings……

Carolyn and Abigail had arrived to the hotel about 6:00pm and checked in and waited for us. We finally arrived at our hotel at 8:10pm and were met by the two of them and my parents. It was great to be back together and exchange stories on our adventures while apart. Jacob & I got cleaned up and ordered some badly needed food; tomorrow is our ending venue in Vancouver.

August 17th
There was a public employee strike in Vancouver, so we were unable to coordinate to meet with the mayor or have any event at city hall. Carolyn worked with Allison Brown (BC Transplant Society) to have the final event held at their head offices. This was scheduled to begin at 11:30AM.
he chase vehicle led us through Vancouver along many one-way streets and construction zones. The BC Transplant Society had a large tent set up out front for us and spaces for us to drive our bikes up on the sidewalk. Many BCTS employees and other people were in attendances. The cheque from the Kamloops Rotary Club was presented to the Director of the BCTS by us. We enjoyed some cake and cool drinks.

CTV news was there and interviewed us for the evening news program. After the official ceremony we were given a personal tour of the BC Transplant Society offices. This group looks after many aspects of the organ donation process. All the “donor cards” are processed through them and all cards are scanned and stored in a database for easy retrieval. Ontario is going to implement a similar system. Our representative, who provided the tour of the facility, had donated a kidney to his wife. He has a very personal interest with the “Organ Donation” issue.

Our ride team and other family members had some lunch together and planned the rest of our last day. At 2:00PM the chase car and the 2 motorcycles headed towards Abbotsford BC to drop off the bikes for shipping back east. We needed to be there before 4:00PM but got stuck in traffic and didn’t arrive until 4:45PM. The people at the shipping company were very nice to stay open later on a Friday afternoon.

Marilyn was happy to say goodbye to her bike but I didn’t want to have the riding journey end! I finally said goodbye to my bike and did enjoy being chauffeured back to Vancouver. The traffic congestion was also encountered going back into the city so we didn’t arrive until 7:00PM. The chase vehicle will have to be dropped off on Saturday, a day late.

We enjoyed a closing dinner with family at a revolving restaurant in downtown Vancouver. The night was clear and provided a great view of the city and surrounding areas. Jacob & Abigail enjoyed watching the buildings go by…..what a great way to cap off a very successful ride!

In Conclusion:
I want to thank all the ride supporters and our family members who have done so much in making this ride possible. We rode over 7,600km’s and saw many of fantastic parts of Canada. Each area of the country is different from the previous one and has its own unique beauty. The people we met were amazing and the memories will stay with us a lifetime.

I believe that the entire ride team has been able to encourage more Canadians to sign their donor cards. We hope the dialogue continues about organ & tissue donation to help all those people still on the waiting lists. Many of these people on the waiting list for organ donations and/or recipients were met along the route. They were encouraged by our efforts. During the ride I also received E-Mails from people who had personally been affected by organ donation and wanted to thank us for our efforts. They made us feel that we, in our small way, were making a difference.

Saving up to 8 lives through organ donation is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.

“Give to Live – Live to Give”

I hope you have enjoyed following us during our cross country adventure. We have appreciated all the E-Mails of encouragement you have sent.
Robert E. Crawford
Email Robert

Thank you from the entire ride team;
Robert, Carolyn, Jacob & Abigail Crawford
Marilyn Olivo-Crawford
Ernie & Terri Olivo
Shelley Murphy
Nick & Irene Bowles
Don & Helen Crawford

Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride
Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness

PS. We have over 1,500 pictures to go through and will send them out to anyone interested when they are ready.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

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