Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Envisions Project #1 - The Avon Trail Thru-Run

My how things change.  A year ago, if you'd told me we would be here again; planning, organizing, plotting crew stops, timing guide runners, gathering food and water... Well, I'd ... I'd likely say... with a chuckle..

"Well you didn't expect me to sit still did you? Not when the world hasn't changed yet?"

The birth of our Non-profit 'Envisions' came as a bit of a surprise.  Knowing there is a need for something in the core of your being makes it easier to take on a challenge.  Whether it's a personal challenge, or a task with a bigger scope; passion is a required puzzle piece.  After completing the Bruce Trail end to end with so much help and support and understanding, I was amazed with the free fall that followed.  Emotions you don't expect haunt your every step.  You begin to wonder why you took on such a major thing, if this, THIS was what waited for you at the end of it all?

There is a common thread in ultra-epic adventures of the plummet that comes after.  Of the black dog that stalks your door. The high you ride during, the sheer bliss of accomplishment at the end, but then this gaping hole in your heart a few days after.  In that space, that breathless vacuum, that feels so deep, so empty, so suffocating, I was astonished to receive a few messages from other disabled athletes who wanted to know how to step up and take a chance.

My only thought at the time was, I have no idea.  Who am I to know?

So I ask you, Who are you?  What do you stand for?  What do you move for?  What stirs the passion in your soul?  What drives you out of bed at stupid o'clock to find your shoes and head out in the minus 30 Celsius temperatures to face your fears?  What makes you believe you are worth others belief in you?

'Envisions Project' is the how.  When someone asks me, how do I begin with my goal, my dream, my quest?  This, is the how.  We are the bridge, the connection, the linkage between the here and there.  We are the support system, the belief, the drive, the focus.  Come to us with a dream and we will work to make it real.  We are here to piece together the puzzle of how you can Hike the Grand Canyon,  Climb your Everest, Complete your First Ironman, Take Part in an Adventure Race and a million more quests.

If you haven't heard us, I promise you will.

We are here to challenge the way the world thinks about Disability and Sport.  We are here to complete the sentence, with hope, with grace, with determination; How will you participate?.  And we would love your involvement.

Our first project is a team effort.  We are Thru-Running along the Avon trail.  This 110km footpath runs from St. Mary's to Conestogo.  Through city paths, rail trail, along roads, farmers fields and along edges of river, we will travel.  The group is dynamic and full of 'other'abled athletes, guide runners, ultra runners, trail runners, crew and support people too.  We start our expedition at stupid o'clock (5am EST) in St. Mary's on April 11 2015. Our estimated journey time is 17-20hours to completion.  Some are joining for the entire adventure, others for a leg or two, and some just to pop in and offer good cheer as we pass through.

Our hope with this, our first project, is to launch Envisions, with the message that anyone can take part, if given the right support.  If 10% of the world falls into the disabled demographic, a group that has no bias of age, gender, ethnicity or favourite jelly bean flavour, then why don't we see disability and sport in our every day?  This group has one other wonderful feature; it will welcome you at any time, for either an extended stay or a brief visit.

Think Envisions isn't about you?

Think again.

There are days I sit on my kitchen floor, hands wrapped around the steaming cup of thoughtful tea, and wonder... will this ever change things?  I ponder how the well intended bus drivers patronize me with sympathy the moment they recognize my disability.  I think about how the assistant at Union Station always takes me to the elevator and speaks louder to me when I've asked for help navigating across platforms.  I wonder as to why the teenagers on my street don't know what a white cane means.  I get lost in the dialogue of sports I can't play that are therefore 'off limits'.  I sit on the floor and listen to stories from other disabled people struggling to get to and from the gym to access the bicycle they've been granted a seat on.  In a world where trail running is my every day, but I refuse to grocery shop under the sun of mid day for fear of busy streets, I don't understand why we have to fight for the same simple rights of access to places and things that others enjoy daily.

Back to my question; Who are you?

When you hop on your bicycle, do you you think about how difficult that might be if you were missing a limb?  Or more importantly, missing the bike that accommodated for that difference?  When you drive to the trail for a run, do you think about the highway traffic and how you'd manage if you couldn't see enough to drive there or cross that road?  When you stand at the swim start of a triathlon, do you think about how you might not hear the other swimmers if your hearing was impaired?

Please join us, help us mix up the normal dialogue of disability and sport.  Volunteer your time, your skill, your hope, to help us create an awareness for the 'other'abled athletes out there.

Help us to Envision a new future, full of potential and accomplishment.

Hope to see you on the Avon Trail!!