For 94 days, my goal was to get to the finish line.
Now that I have crossed it, I know the whole point of my adventure was to make sure it’s not the finish, but a place from which to continue.
My Step Forward fundraiser came to a conclusion in the twilight of Monday as I completed a journey of over a million and a half steps (I guess I mis-titled the column) and more than 1,000 kilometres when you factor in my 10 kilometres or more per day on the La Verendrye Parkway winding parallel to Rainy River.
In my travels, I have met a lot of supportive passersby (and their dogs), witnessed breathtaking sunrises and sunsets and marvelled at the extremes in sound quantity I encountered from empty silence in the early mornings to a torrent of traffic both human and vehicular in the busier times of the day.
Through it all, I have been buoyed by the generosity of those backing the campaign either through their financial contributions (more than $3,000, which exceeded my wildest expectations) or their positive messages or both.
Because of their kindness, because of your kindness, we were able to come together to help fill the shelves of the United Native Friendship Centre Food Bank so that those it assists won’t have to worry as much about where their next meal is coming from.
Because of the compassion shown, the Rainy River District Victim Services Program will be able to enhance the commendable work they do to be a port in the storm for those dealing with the turmoil of domestic abuse.
Because of the empathy and grace displayed, the Riverside Foundation for Health Care’s Chemotherapy Unit will be able to provide more treatment and rehabilitation for those in our local area battling against the tireless foe that is cancer.
Words are not nearly enough to show my appreciation and to represent the gratitude of those who will benefit from the efforts to pitch in to help better the life of the less fortunate.
But I wholeheartedly thank every single person who donated a dollar, typed out a note of encouragement or even just took the time to smile and nod and wish me well as I carried on with my daily travels.
The whole experience bolstered my faith in humanity’s ability to look beyond themselves and to provide comfort in times of need to those who need it most.
It also opened my eyes to the realization that, despite my thoughts to the contrary some days, my life is amazingly blessed.
I am blessed to have had parents who raised me right and taught me to put others in front of myself, although Heaven knows I forget that fact far too often and need to work on remembering it more frequently.
I am blessed to have good enough health to have the energy to take on challenges like Step Forward and make them a reality.
I am blessed to live in a part of the world where a morning walk doesn’t have to involve me dodging gunfire or mortar rounds such is found in so many inner cities and war-torn regions of our planet.
And I am most certainly blessed with a circle of family and friends who, instead of scoffing at my ambitions, threw their full belief behind me that I could accomplish what I was setting out to do.
Now it’s up to me, to you, to all of us to make sure that we keep putting others ahead of ourselves when the situation calls for it.
Step Forward wasn’t the last step. It’s just the next step.
Steps taken this week: 113,842
Steps taken overall: 1,507,881
Money raised this week: $215
Money raised for Riverside Foundation for Health Care – Chemotherapy Unit: $840
Money raised for Rainy River Victim District Services: $700
Money raised for the UNFC Food Bank: $1,500
Money raised overall: $3,040