Eric and Paul were my hiking partners today and they are quite possibly two of the nicest people you will ever encounter. Eric and I go way back. We worked together at the Toronto Argonauts starting in 2004 and continued to work closely together when I subsequently worked at the Canadian Football League head office.
Paul and I had engaged numerous times on Twitter, but we had never met in person until Sunday morning. We were introduced on Twitter by a mutual friend who felt that our love for pocket squares and people would make us a good match. She was correct.
Paul brought his scarf along for today’s hike, so I pulled out one of the brand spanking new 2013 designs of the scarf for our journey – old meets new.
Paul selected our 12.3km route that started at Humber Bay near Palace Pier Park and snaked along the lake shore all the way to the Exhibition grounds before looping back to our origin.
One of the cool things about a route like this is that you actually get to check out the scenery that usually blurs by as you speed along the Q.E.W. You also realize how many small parks Toronto contains – like Sir Casimir Gzowski Park, which featured two green dinosaurs. Not sure the back story, but they made for a great photo op.
It became evident early on in our conversation that I may not be explaining this whole #KiliHikeTO, #Climb4Cord and #ForAllCanadians mission as clearly as possible. So let me explain:
Why is this important?
Approximately 1,000 Canadians today are desperately in need of a stem cell transplant because it is their last and best hope for recovery. Canadian patients currently largely rely on stem cells from bone marrow or peripheral blood donors. There are not enough donors and the registry of donors does not reflect the ethnic diversity of Canadian patients. Stem cells from umbilical cord blood could help solve this critical problem, but in Canada, umbilical cords are currently discarded at birth. Of note, Canada is the only G8 country without a national public umbilical cord blood bank.
One of the tactics we are using to raise the $12.5M is the #Climb4Cord. Led by Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services, our group will be climbing 19,341 feet up Africa’s highest peak – Mt. Kilimanjaro. The climb will take place in August and our goal is for members of the climbing team to raise $750,000 through donations and sponsorships. My goal is to raise $10,000 through personal donations while my employer, ING DIRECT, has also agreed to a significant contribution towards the climb.
That leads to #KiliHikeTO and why I’m hiking every Sunday morning. I need to get my body conditioned for long hikes and hiking alone for three hours isn’t very fun (or social). So I launched #KiliHikeTO to engage community support to help me reach my goal of standing on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on the morning of Monday, August 12th, 2013. Read more about my motivation by clicking here.
The weekly hikes appear to be paying off. I felt great during Sunday’s hike. The lower back pain was nonexistent thanks to my new stretching routine and increased weight training. I had a monster week in the gym with Marshall this past week including new training records on the trap bar, leg press and bench press. I’m also eating better thanks to my wonderful wife Jess, who helps me prepare a healthy lunch and dinner each day.
From a personal fundraising standpoint, the support from family and friends continues to pour in. I have raised over $2,500 towards my goal of $10,000. I can’t say thanks enough to everyone who has made a contribution so far. I really appreciate it. In addition to the wonderful financial support, our campaign was featured in a full page ad in the Saturday edition of the Globe and Mail. That led to a few emails of support, so it is nice to see the word getting out about what we are trying to accomplish.
Next week I’m off to High Park with Kristyna and Sarah. I’m looking forward to meeting Kristyna in person for the first time and reconnecting with Sarah, who also works in the social media space for a large brand.
If you haven’t signed up for a hike, now would be a good time to do so! I’m still looking for a hiking partner on the Easter Weekend – Sunday, March 31st. You can also join an existing hike. Just throw your name down on the spreadsheet. If hiking isn’t your thing, why not consider a donation instead!
I appreciate you taking the time to read this far into the post and thanks for your support.
The #Climb4Cord features a group of business leaders who will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2013 with the hopes of raising $750,000 for the campaign For All Canadians, which is dedicated to building Canada’s new national public cord blood bank. Click here to donate to my personal page or for more information on the campaign please visit: http://campaignforcanadians.ca/