On August 12th I was flying into Denver and still feeling the effects of the four-day Transrockies Challenge. I had got pretty beaten up, riding my mountain bike, navigating trail sections between Blairmore and Canmore. It had been just over a week since it was completed and the cuts and bruises were starting to heal.
Kananaskis3 was event number four in my TransRockies Quest 888. The original plan was to run three events over three days in the Powderface / Little Elbow area of Kananaskis just outside Bragg Creek. Unfortunately, the Alberta floods put an end to that. Bragg Creek had been hit hard, the bridge on Highway 66 had been destroyed and many of the trails had been wiped out.
When the flooding began in Canmore on the night of June 19th, nobody expected that the next few days would become such a nightmare for Southern Alberta. When the water finally began to recede, people transitioned from survival to recovery. Now, we're all learning to live with it. The financial devastation is going to be incredibly difficult for many to handle. Even for those who have policies with insurance companies who are covering some of their damage, the floods have obliterated any budget planning and savings for a lot of families. We've been told for years that many Canadians are carrying too much debt. Something like this increases the burden of that weight and some may break under it.
On Monday, November 5th 2012, I was packing food hampers at Saint Jacobi Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York. Hurricane Sandy had caused widespread destruction a few days before and my reason for being in the city, the New York Marathon, had, understandably, been cancelled. It seemed only natural to respond to a request for volunteers.
In early January of this year, I met Glenda Zamzow at a book signing in Calgary. A week later, after having read my book she contacted me. Glenda told me that she had been inspired by my story, which led her to organize a family meeting with her husband Richard and sons 11 year old Derek and 14 year old Marcus. As Glenda told me "I really felt we should do something - we've been given such great opportunities. You always hear people say 'Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps.' But disadvantaged kids, they don't have boot straps. If it were me, I'd want someone to advocate for me".
Lawrence Grassi was a trailblazer. An immigrant from Italy he was a respected mountaineer and guide who built and maintained many of the original trails throughout the mountains around Canmore, Alberta. Short of stature and eschewing alpine guide stereotypes for suspenders and hobnail boots Grassi was one of the key personalities in Canmore's early history. And the school that bears his name, Lawrence Grassi middle school, has blazed a trail much in its namesake's fashion. Nothing too fancy, but a lot of hard work and common sense can go a long way.