East Credit in the Community
We're proud to give back to the communities of the world.
This is my fourth year volunteering in Guatemala for the Health Outreach dental service trip and I can honestly say that the experience is as rewarding as the first one was and even more enlightening. Every year I learn something different and this year was no exception. Treating children on a floating dental clinic in an isolated area of rain forest is challenging to say the least. When all is said and done I find the experience extremely fulfilling and rewarding.
This year we had one of the local Quiche women, who was trained as a nurse, speak to us through a translator. As she spoke she became visibly emotional and told us that she was embarrassed that we had to come all the way from Canada to help her people when they were unable to get the local dentists to help them. For the last four years we have been the only health care professionals that these people see. That was stunning to me and put this project in a whole other perspective.
Coast to Coast Against Cancer Ride 2017
8 men, 8 days, 6000km… cycling for Kids with Cancer
The Final Chapter
I need time.
Time to rest, time to recover, time away from my bike and especially time to reflect.
I’m looking out of the window of my WestJet flight at the Halifax airport waiting to go back home. It has been an incredible journey and I find myself very emotional and a little overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. There is an incredible amount of information to process as I think back on this trip that started 10 short days ago. It’s not just information, like data on a hard drive, that sits inside me waiting to be used, it is also feelings and emotions that I haven’t quite had time to deal with. Because of the 24/7 non stop nature of the event it never really felt like one day passed into the next, it actually felt more like one long 192 hr day. Every once in a while a memory will bubble up to the surface and trigger a smile, a sense of satisfaction or a feeling of disappointment and it creates an urgency in me to write down what I have gone through before the data is wiped clean of the hard drive, gone forever.
Then came the first of many dedications reminding us why we ride. Story after story of children and families enduring extreme hardship, pain and suffering in a fight for their lives that didn’t always end well. Even those children fortunate enough to survive the disease didn’t always survive the treatment or were left with permanent long term complications that they would have to learn to live with. These kids didn’t ask to be dealt these cards but they played them with courage, compassion and bravery. In the end they just did what they had to do to give them a chance of getting better.
Let’s start at the beginning in Vancouver. Arriving in White Rock and meeting many of the people on the team for the first time. It is incredible to think of how these people would effect my life over the next 10 days. Working out logistics and getting to know each other we had no idea what an impact this would have later in the trip. Then at White Rock for the inauguration of the ride seeing Rajiv and Lou there for the send off, two of my closest friends, gave me such a boost and helped tremendously in setting positive thoughts towards my goal.
My fellow riders were an inspirational group of guys as well who showed resolve and mental toughness of the highest degree. These are my brothers and I spent countless hours on the road with them fighting the elements, the road conditions, the trucks, sleep deprivation, the blackness of night and illness to push us east to our final goal.
Craig and Swinny were consistently our strongest riders and we used them as our diesel engines by keeping a steady pace into the wind when out on the road helping us all stay in check. These are the guys you want in front of you when the headwinds blow. Craig is a close friend from home whom I’ve trained with and ridden with for years. When I was asked to ride in this event he’s the first guy I thought of asking to join this group. He’s captain of our velocity team on tour for kids and works harder than anyone I know. Swinny is funny as hell and has a twisted way of seeing things which is why I get along so well with him. He’s also the voice of reason and can block out the chatter to see what really is going on.
Bretton and Henry were our entertainment center. They took our minds off the cold or the head winds or the lack of sleep with ridiculous routines or just being the beautiful people they are. Henry is the reason I am on this ride in the first place and this is the second time that we are riding across the country together. Bretton I just met on this trip and I feel like I’ve known the guy my whole life. Hip hop aficionado and all around funny dude from Scarborough who lives in Quebec city, go figure.
Morland had us laughing especially at times when we needed it most. He was able to pick the right time to say something that you needed to hear. Incredibly knowledgeable on many subject areas, an uncanny memory and a terrible sense of timing.
Erik was our Danish Viking and although quiet most of the time he was there when you needed a moment of sanity and serenity in this group of clowns and lunatics. As the days past I got to know Erik better and found him to be a great guy to chill with, no drama no over reactions just calming energy. Definitely what this group needed.
Jeff, our leader, always kept a positive attitude even though we gave him plenty of reason to throw us out of the RV while it was still moving. Jeff’s strength is motivating people through his passion and he does it incredibly well. Jeff is also our strongest rider even though for the first half of the trip he and I were suffering from intestinal issues that sapped our energy away. To give you an idea of how strong a rider he is by the second last day of the trip, after riding over 1,500 Km in some of the worst weather I have ever ridden in and going through dehydration issues due to his earlier health issues, he rode 320 km from Moncton to Halifax at a hard pace usually in front of the group. The rest of us put in 250 km and we had to keep telling him to ease up the whole ride.
Finally my job was to provide the laugh track for this movie and help where I could by providing some musical distraction on the bike especially at night and hopefully make a few people laugh along the way.
I love these guys and will do anything I can for them.
This was one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life because it effected me on many levels. It was physically, mentally and emotionally tough and at times pushed me to my limits. I can’t explain the satisfaction I got from meeting those challenges and breaking through those obstacles in my path but the bigger lesson for me was dealing with the frustration and disappointment when things didn’t go as planned and we had to shuttle past sections of roadway or we messed up transitions. I imagine, in a small way, this is what the families we ride for deal with on a daily basis but with more dire consequences than the ones we had and more serious outcomes. How we as individuals deal with failure tells us much more about ourselves than all the accolades and success in the world. It humbles us and grounds us and reminds us that the most important things in the world are the people we love and the relationships we build around us.
’ll finish with two very apropos quotes from two British bands I loved and grew up listening to as a kid.
“In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
“You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need "
I think this sums up what I’m feeling right now.
Love you all
( Rob The Dentist )