By David Thielen
It started with Terry Fox and his attempt to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Steve Fonyo followed with a successful cross Canada run to raise money for Cancer research. It continued with Rick Hansen and his Man in Motion World Tour to raise money for spinal cord research. The Cross Canada walk/run/whatever has become a familiar form of fund-raising attention getting for lots of causes.
Passing through Vermilion on Monday, May 18 was Steve O’Brien on his Cross Canada Tour to raise awareness for children’s activity.
“Everywhere I stop, I seek out the schools, the youth groups, etc. and let them know that we are here to listen to their concerns,” said Steve O’Brian, when he stopped at St. Jerome’s in Vermilion on Tuesday morning. He had a similar message for Vermilion High School.
“Family life has changed so much in the last 30 years, kids today are very bright, but they have little to no physical activity. “
“When I was young, my mother stayed home, and we went outside and played all of the time. Whether it was Kick the Can, a pick-up baseball game, or just heading down to the local swimming hole. We were active,” he said.
“But today, everybody is so tied to technology that they just don’t get out and get active. For example when I was in Edmonton, I stayed with a cousin. After dinner, both the kids and the parents were tied to their phones texting. “
So when I meet with the schools and the youth groups, I challenge them to get active, and then to record that activity in our log book on our website. www.steveobrienfoundation.com with the goal being that all of the kids combined are able to rack up more kilometers than I will on my cross Canada tour, said O’Brien.
“My trip isn’t about raising money, although we do get some donations, it’s about raising awareness that we need to listen to and support the youth of our communities. That parents have to make time to spend quality time with their children. “
“I cannot even begin to count the number of children that I have talked to that both their parents work, so there is no time for the family. They get up, they go to school or day care, they go home, have supper, and then nothing. Everybody is either too busy with work, or too tired from work to spend any time being a family. “
Steve is alternating between means of transportation on his journey. In the morning, to warm up he will start by walking or running five kilometers. Then approximately every five kilometers he will change his method of transportation. Depending on road and weather conditions it may be roller blades, long board (an extra-long skateboard) , scooter, bike, adapted bike, wheel chair. All the methods are ones that have been chosen by kids that he has talked with,.
“If I can find one, I’m even going to add a pogo stick to the mix,” said O’Brien.