I’m going to brag now. If you don’t like Mummy brags or you simply have no interest, please look away now. I’d feel bad about it, but I’m bursting with pride over my little hero and I want to shout it from the rooftops.
This morning, I woke him early, even before his gro-clock was awake, and drove him across town to the start line before he even had breakfast to join the 4th Annual
#WALKFORSICKKIDS. Breakfast was provided at Main Camp, then we set off walking.
Chance, and a very distracting train line, meant we were towards the back of the crowd from virtually the off. Participants of all ages joined the challenge – which was to walk anything up to 20km around the streets of Toronto, with activity ‘campsites’ and the chance to catch the bus back to home base every 2.5km – but Sebastian was by far the youngest I saw not to have a stroller or wagon to ride in.
We arrived at the 2.5km Camp with the trailing pack. It was there that we first met the “marshmallow men”, two guys on bicycles who were the caboose for the group, in charge of rounding up stragglers and making sure nobody fell by the wayside. They had sticks stuck to their helmets with marshmallows skewered and ready for toasting, and candy in their pockets to revive struggling participants. I wish I’d taken a picture; they were a real highlight for us both.
I had originally intended to do 5km. Even that felt like a big challenge for a little boy. He’s had a bad cold and a bout of croup in the last two weeks. Seven days ago, it was touch and go whether he’d be able to do this walk at all. A few blocks before the 5km Campsite, the Marshmallow men caught up with us and a couple of other families, and passed out lollipops to all the small people. Our support crew – Jon and Dominic – were at the campsite to greet us. The line for the bus was long and it was clear that anyone still at the campsite wasn’t going on, but when I asked Sebastian, he was cheerful and enthusiastic … and adamant he wanted to continue.
Jon and Dominic left us to get lunch. The 2.5km from Sick Kids Hospital to Riverdale Farm were long. We saw almost no other participants, the cheerleaders had all moved further up the route and the Marshmallow Men cheerfully waited for us at a few major intersections, but I encouraged them not to abandon the rest of the field on our account. But although they were slow, they were fun. Sebastian chased pigeons in a park, we sang songs and I danced (“Mummy, stop dancing!”), we talked about everything under the sun. We were in no rush, we were enjoying a walk through our city, and occasionally a stranger would come up to ask us what it was all about, having seen crowds passing through ahead of us.
At Parliament and Carlton, Jon and Dominic spotted us from their bus home and joined in the last few hundred metres. Sebastian is a happy boy, but it’s almost impossible to get him to smile for the camera… even looking at the camera is often a push. And yet every photo from today has him beaming. At 7.5km, I called time because he had already totally exceeded expectations and I had a feeling neither the activities nor the buses back to Main Camp would be running by the time we made it to Camp 10km. I’m pretty sure Sebastian would have signed up for more if he could!
We raised nearly $800 (you can still sponsor us here if you want to increase that!). We walked almost non-stop from 9am till 1.30pm and I’ll admit, my feet ache. A woman I met on the bus back said she’d done 17,500 steps. Sebastian’s stride length must be less than half hers, so he easily topped 30,000 steps today. Most of all, we had fun, took it at our own pace and for once didn’t have to rush or bustle or hurry anywhere.
I’m grateful to all our sponsors, to our support team, and to the patient, supportive Marshmallow Men. But most of all, I’m incredibly proud of my little hero.