He did it! With a lot of generous people he met along the way, Andrew Metcalfe set out 60 days ago with a pink canoe on his shoulders to raise money and awareness for cancer research. His original goal? $5000 and he hoped that people wouldn’t think he was crazy. He, like many of us have been touched by cancer and he decided to do what he could to help and thought this might get the attention he needed to fund-raise for the Canadian Cancer Society. Listening to his stories over the past couple of days it has been an incredible journey met with some crazy stories, amazing people, heat waves, tornado warnings and torrential rain. I first heard about him as he was walking through Muskoka during the Canada Day weekend and decided I wanted to go meet him when he was walking through Milton. I watched as he shook everyone’s hands, asked their names, and handed out markers to those who would sign his canoe. He has collected approximately 1 signature for every kilometre he walked which is awesome. You can read more about my first meeting with him by reading another blog I posted by clicking here. I walked and talked with him a bit and asked if I could help in any way, recognizing he didn’t really have a plan, there was no calling ahead to media, it was all just word of mouth. Wanting to make this journey the best it could possibly be, and being a planner I decided I would try and help get more attention for him between Milton and Windsor. I spoke with lots of media who were very supportive and went out to cover his walk, and kept in touch over twitter, text and email with Andrew to see what I could do to help. He was pretty easy going. I did what I could and I hope it helped!
I decided I wanted to be there to watch him finish and having wanted to walk with him since Milton I finally got the opportunity in Windsor, parking at City Hall and walking up to the Ambassador Bridge to meet and walk with him. The horns honking and cheers, random people stopping and congratulating him or sharing their stories about how cancer has affected them, media following his final movements towards the finish line… It was a beautiful walk along the river on a bright sunny day spent with great company. I’m impressed with how he can walk, text, take photos and navigate objects and people from under that canoe! Lots of practice I supposed!
The biggest challenge was making Windsor City Hall aware that he was choosing that as the final destination in his journey and Jill who works in the city clerks office stepped up to the plate, having recently lost her mother to cancer. She managed to gather $1000 from the employees at City Hall and rallied all sorts of groups to city hall like Hospice, Relay for the Cure, Dragonboats, the local hospital… and then there were some who had been following Andrew’s journey who made the trip. Jill created a finish line for him to cross too which was amazing. Nothing like a finish line to make it seem official… I know Andrew would have been fine just showing up to City Hall without a crowd and taking one last photo of the canoe in front of the City Hall sign but he was all smiles as he video taped the crowd from underneath the canoe as he walked in to cheers of support and congratulations! His Mom, Sister, Grandmother and Dad were there and were the first to rush over once he set the canoe down with tears in their eyes to hug him, Andrew saying “Why are you guys crying?” HA! Tears of happiness Mom said. She was happy to not have to worry about him anymore walking along busy streets. Grandma said her heart was overwhelmed, even though she thought he was crazy for doing it in the beginning. A great moment for everyone to see this all come together. Presentations were made, the cause was talked about, media gathered interviews and footage and it was done!
A generous lunch was provided to the family after the celebrations at a local restaurant and I was lucky enough to join in. I wish this family would adopt me. Such a great group of people. Having a long drive ahead and Breakfast Television in the morning we parted ways. I will never complain about a long drive again knowing that Andrew has portaged the same route… Crazy! The next morning I met up with Andrew and his dad outside of Breakfast Television as they unloaded the canoe and walked it into the studio. Lots of happy people to greet a sleepy Andrew but he was in good spirits! Lisa from Shoppers Drug Mart was there to present Andrew on Television with the $25K they promised to give him if he hit his target but viewers and BT Hosts Kevin and Dina were surprised when Andrew announced he actually was able to raise over $81K for cancer research – a number which BLEW the $50K (25K him, 25K Shoppers we all thought he had just barely raised) out of the water. The final number as you can see was $85,515 once he finished rolling all of the coins and I’m sure that number is still going up through continued donations on the Cancer Society’s website.
What does the future hold for Andrew? People are encouraging him to write a book about his experience which I think is a fantastic idea. He has so many stories to share that I think people should know about but if he is able to do this he wants to make sure all proceeds go to charity. Thank you Andrew for inspiring me. I know you’re humble about your accomplishments but what you have done could likely help me, or someone I love in the future and for that I’m grateful. Not many 21 year olds are as motivated and well-mannered as you are. You and your family should be proud.
For more photos/video of The Pink Portage, check out our facebook page by clicking here. If you want to make a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society, click here. If you want to bid on the canoe (Andrew hopes to auction it off for the cause) you can contact him by emailing info @ pinkportage . com … #togetherwecan.