Mobilize March -- Travel Blog

Day 28 — It’s opposite day!

Today was opposite day at the Mobilize March. Rather than driving my chair to a city and having a meeting, today I decided to do the meeting first and then drive to the community.

Thanks to some fancy last minute planning and scheduling by our political rep, Nicole, we were able to arrange a meeting with the Oshawa Accessibility Advisory Committee, however the meeting was scheduled to take place before we actually set off from Toronto for our afternoon drive to Oshawa. Not a problem at all, meeting is more important than scheduling! So we drove out to Oshawa this morning for a quick meeting with the Oshawa AAC before driving back to Scarborough for the wheelchair ride.

The meeting was phenomenal and once again I’ve made some new friends. We discussed the situation of accessible transportation in Oshawa and worked together to think of some solutions that will work for this community. This committee is already well on their way to solving the transportation problem and I’m really excited to see their plans begin to materialize. I had a great time chatting with the folks of Oshawa–this committee really made me feel welcome. It was also great meeting Susan, who some of you may recognize from a comment recently posted on the blog, along with her daughter who opted to attend the meeting and hear me speak today. All in all, this was a great time.

After the meeting we ran back to Scarborough. Hilariously, as we were driving down the 401 on our way back Pete and I passed a rented bus full of life guards partying it up like it was 1962. To clarify, yes it was only 11am at this point, but that didn’t matter to these life guards! They appeared to know how to have a good time. This was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on the highway…certainly the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on the high way before noon, at the very least.

By noon we had arrived at the city limits of Scarborough, where Kathy and her daughter Caleigh were waiting, ready to go, and just like that, I was back on the road after a two-week hiatus. My shoulder was pretty raw for the first few kilometers, but I fell back into the groove quickly and before long I was back in action like Michael Jackson. Kathy did a great job keeping up–I wasn’t too sure how it was going to work having her run along with me because I’ve never had to worry about stamina thus far on this trip. While my battery does run down and my shoulder and neck get pretty sore, basically I just keep truckin’ along until my batteries die or my shoulder is so sore it goes numb (at which point, it doesn’t hurt anymore!). Tossing some human legs into the mix definitely spiced it up a bit, adding another layer of intrigue into an already complex system. Things went really well though and Kathy just kept going like a champion–I’m really proud of her. The weather was perfect for a runner today as well; slightly cool, no rain, with almost no sun.

The whole way to Oshawa we had people honkin’, wavin’, and throwing thumbs up out their windows. It’s always nice having the cheers and honks–it really lets me know that people care and are paying attention to what I’m doing out here. Several very cool things happened along the way that I should note.

Firstly, we got a call from Rogers TV in London and confirmed I will be doing a phone interview tomorrow morning on their television show Daytime. So keep an eye tomorrow morning to see some photos of me from the road along with hearing the interview. It’s going to be really good reconnecting with back home.

Speaking of reconnecting with home, on the road I also got a phone call from our very own Braden Rosner–planner extraordinaire and current employee of Bruce Power. He called to check in on how things were coming along and ask if there was any way he could pitch in a hand from the Bruce. It was great chatting with him; I’m definitely missing Braden a bunch out here on the road.

As if it was planned, moments later we were pulled over by a fellow CAW member who saw me on the road and recognized us. It was like all our sponsors were coming out to say hi! I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised given that we were on our way into CAW Country, Ontario, but it was still freaky how we had contact from two of our sponsors, rapid fire.

Finally, shortly before entering Whitby we encountered the largest group of motorcycles we’ve seen yet. There were hundreds of them tearing down the road in the opposite direction. There were so many riders they even had a police escort! As they passed we had lots of waves and honks, including a bit of siren from the police escort. It was pretty cool! I’ve definitely got a special place in my heart for the motorcyclists I’ve encountered along the way to Ottawa–they’ve all been friendly and generous with the honks, smiles and waves. As I said earlier, they know a thing or two about tackling the open road on a favourite piece of machinery.

All in all, it was a fun ride and I’m gonna miss having Kathy at my side the rest of the way–she was a great travel partner. Tomorrow is going to be a really long run to Cobourg (over 50km) so I should probably get to bed. I know, I know…it’s only 8:00pm…I swear, this trip is making me more and more like my parents every day. I bet my mom never thought she’d see the day that I went to bed before 10pm. Oh well…temporary sacrifice, all in the name of the trip, right? I shouldn’t joke too much–while my parents do go to bed embarrassingly earlier, there are no two people who I would rather grow up to be. Without them, and a lot of pushing and ribbing from my sister, I would never have been strong enough to accomplish what I have thus far, both in life and on this trip. Love you guys so much Mom, Dad and Trish and although I’m sure I’ve said it before–thank you all so much. Some things you can never say enough, right? Can’t wait to see you in Ottawa.

Tomorrow to Cobourg and Port Hope to celebrate Disability Awareness Week. Can’t wait!

– Jeff

By Jeffrey Preston

Born with a rare neuromuscular myopathy, Jeff has spent his life dedicated to advocating for himself and others with disabilities. With a PhD in Media Studies from Western University, Jeff's research focuses on the representation of disability in popular and digital culture. Jeff is currently an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at King's University College @ Western University in London, ON.