I just spent a week in in Burlington, VT, the town where I was born and raised. The flight seemed longer than usual, which is often the case when I’m excited about returning “home.” The second leg of the journey is always made in the tiniest of aircraft’s, where I had to slouch over big time when getting to my window seat so as not to bang my head on the overhead, or in this case, in-your-face bins. Seated, the tray table arched over my long legs, refusing to lay flat. The attendant was coming down the aisle with drinks- thank God. My throat was parched and I felt really dehydrated, so I asked her for 2 glasses of ice water. Obliging, she placed both cups on my tilted table. I was able to balance the 2 quite nicely until I didn’t. My knee jerked and the rest is history. One of the my icey drinks slid right off the back of the arched tray, spilling entirely on my right foot. Merde. That was a total “me” move. Greed gets you nowhere.
Cursing rapid fire inside my head, I walked, hunch back, down the narrow aisle to the tiny bathroom. Locking the door, I sat on the toilet seat and attempted to get that shoe off, but both knees were so wedged up against the door, I could barely lift my leg. When I finally got my clown shoe off, I struggled with the soaking wet sock, as if it were a living slimy sucker fish trying to swallow my foot whole. It just did not want to come off. I pulled and pulled and finally, the sock flew off my foot, hit the door, and slid to the very unhygienic floor. Gross. I quickly stuffed paper towel into the toe area to dry the shoe because the plane started to jolt back and forth, like a mechanical bull. Just an FYI: riding a mechanical bull is the last thing in the world I wanted to do then or ever.
Riding the waves of turbulence, I staggered back to my seat and fastened my seatbelt. I took several deep breaths, popped my earbuds in and watched the rest of Twin Peaks. About 30 minutes later, we arrived safe and sound and I felt pretty good considering the frostbite one gets from wearing a wet, now frozen sock for an extended period of time.
It was midnight when we arrived at the Burlington International Airport. I kind of chuckled when the authorities officially stuck “international” in the name of my hometown airport. I think the name changed when a once a week flight to Montreal was added to the schedule. In other words, a single flight to Canada put us on an international playing field. Despite the big, bold name, we still arrived in a pint-sized plane, whose steps were lowered onto the pitch black tarmac for all 10 of us to debark.
Standing on the windy and ill-lit landing strip, most waited patiently for the carry-on bags. I, on the other hand, limped around in small circles, shivering, trying to get the blood flowing to my foot again. I felt right at home when I saw the airline baggage employee. This dude, who wore a beard and mustache, his hair pulled back in a ponytail, a beanie and plaid shirt was our welcoming committee and he kindly handed us our carry-ons (which were really carry-offs because I brought it with me on the plane and the United personnel said, “Oh no you don’t!” and carried it right off again. A roller board will definitely not fit in the minuscule bin). Back to my lumberjack friend. Feeling a bond between us, I smiled and said, “Thanks, man.” He just nodded and answered, “Yep.” It felt good to be among my own kind. Yep, it sure did.
Despite the long and challenging start, my brother and I spent a lot of time visiting friends, family, long time event sponsors and potential supporters. Chris has the natural knack for engaging his audience, telling our story and getting people involved in our cause. He also has boundless energy and passion – it’s contagious and exhausting all at the same time.
I feel so fortunate to have grown up in a small tight-knit community whose members genuinely care about one another. Everyone greeted us with a smile, a handshake and words of encouragement. Many have met Yohan and genuinely care about him and CMT. They asked about Yohan’s progress, CMTA research and how to best support the event this year. We are so grateful to all our sponsors – all superstars in our eyes. Here are just a few with whom we met who hold a special place in my heart:
My brother, George Ouellette, who expertly takes all the pictures the day of the event. Thanks to his hard work and talent, we have clear, crisp, colorful photos of all past events, serving as memories for years and years to come.
Kevin Owens of Select Design has been a crusader for our cause since day one. His company designs our logo, makes all the tee-shirts, hats, water bottles, bike jerseys, etc. for the event. He’s become a good friend and the employees of Select Design are like family. The talent that pours freely from his business is incredible.
Spike Clayton of the Ski Rack has also welcomed us with open arms. We met with him briefly and will be offering bike support the day of the event (Mikey is the best ever); our relationship continues to strengthen and flourish. Rent your bikes here!
Kris Nelson of Citizen Cider took the time to sit down and have lunch with us. Terrific guy, delicious food, great cider! Upon wrapping up our meeting, he even started describing CMT to another business owner (who will now sponsor us). He wowed us with his knowledge of CMT and he even pronounced “Charcot-Marie-Tooth” without stumbling or faltering. He’s providing Citizen Cider for the event!
After cold calling one of the owners of the Outdoor Gear Exchange several years back, Mike Donohue jumped on board and continues to provide all the help and silent auction items he can muster.
The overwhelming caring and support of all our friends warm my heart (and foot). Thank you for your willingness to get involved in making a real difference in Yohan’s recovery and future as well as the many others with CMT in the world.
I look forward to the Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT on Sunday, August 27, 2017. I hope you can support us again this year.
Wondering what you can do to help out?
Register for the event: cycle4cmt.com
Sponsor a rider or a walker:https://cmta.akaraisin.com/Common/Event/Home.aspx?seid=14275&mid=8
Join our growing list of sponsors. Email Chris Ouellette- firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s event is going to be the best yet, so don’t miss out. And we all deeply appreciate any and all support. Yep, we do.