Sep 21 2010
Emotional finish for Shore2Shore firefighters
Cheers, applause and tears of joy greeted White Rock firefighters Tuesday afternoon, as they pedaled Marine Drive along the final stretch of a two-week journey that took them clear across Canada in support of Variety the Children's Charity.
"They're coming! I see fire trucks!" one excited young girl exclaimed as her father and other team members rode into sight, high-fiving family, friends, colleagues and others who turned out to welcome the Shore2Shore crew home.
Sentiments among the crowd who lined the street shared a common thread: excitement at the arrival, relief that everyone returned safely and pride in what was achieved.
"What an incredible feat," commented Mike Stark, a fellow firefighter, moments before his peers arrived.
As supporters rallied around the team in the parking lot east of the White Rock Museum, "Dream Team" leader Eric Kameka described an "amazing" journey that had no low points.
"Everything went totally smooth… other than the weather," Kameka said. "Each day was special in its own way."
Kameka choked up when asked how it felt to come to the end of an effort that began nearly two years ago.
"To be on these roads, being that close to home… seeing the (fire) trucks and stuff pick us up, it was pretty cool," he said. "It's a little emotional."
The firefighters set out to raise $100,000 for Variety. As of Tuesday morning, they were more than halfway to the goal, with more funds anticipated.
"We're about $50,000, without knowing the bibs and bobs that came in along the way," Variety's Carla Jones said.
Waiting for the team to arrive, Jones described the riders as "on a high."
"They've had shockingly bad weather, but so proud of what they've achieved."
Firefighters from Abbotsford, Delta and West Vancouver joined the crew for the final leg Tuesday, riding the 160 kilometres from Hope to White Rock, where the cyclists dipped their bike tires into the Pacific in a symbolic closing gesture. The ride began in Halifax Sept. 8 with a similar dip into the Atlantic.
Variety's Barbie Hislop said it was a "true honour" to welcome the team home. Their efforts have already benefited the community, she added, announcing a $10,000 grant awarded to Sources for a program – Pathways to Competency – targeting school-aged children who aren't quite ready for school.
All of the funds raised for Variety help children who have special needs, Hislop said.
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