I'm often asked where my inspiration for the Ride for Inclusion comes from. My inspiration is personal, professional and social.
First, my youngest son (Kameron) is on the Autism Spectrum. He's a great kid - full of boundless energy and enthusiasm. He possesses an amazing sense of humor, sharp wit and optimism. While Kam does very well with most of his school work, he struggles with fine motor skills and, like many of his ASD peers, he is socially awkward. So, with the exception of his older brother and a couple of cousins, he really doesn't have what I would call "friends." I can't remember, for example, the last time a classmate or neighbour's kid invited him to a birthday party or a sleepover or even just to come over to their house to play video games. It's sad really but it happens to so many young people like Kam that we seem to accept it as normal.
Second, I have had the privilege of working at Durham College for almost 6 years now and I absolutely love my job! I am surrounded by outstanding faculty, staff, and administrators who all make coming to work as good as it can possibly can get. We work hard and we change lives for the better in very tangible ways! It's here at DC that I have had the privilege of meeting and working with hundreds of truly amazing and highly-motivated young people intellectual disabilities (and their families). Many of them remind me of Kam. These folks have taught me the value and benefits of inclusionary programming. I have also learned that its not just the students with intellectual disabilities who benefit from programs like the CICE program. It's actually the so-called "normal" students and the rest of the college community who benefit the most from this kind of programming. We learn, amongst other things, to value diversity.
Finally, I absolutely love to ride! I ride well over 20,000 kms each riding season. I have completed 5 Iron Butts (including the original Ride for Inclusion from Deadhorse, Alaska to Key West, Florida in 2015). I ride regularly with my second family - the Canadian Motorcycle Cruisers - 094 Clarington (and, frankly, with anyone else who will have me). In addition to my club rides, I do as many charity rides as I can find and fit in my schedule. The biker community is very well known for its charity and compassion. These are two values we all uphold. So, nothing makes us prouder or more excited than when we line up with a few hundred of our closest friends and head out on the highway to promote a good cause.