Marsh keeps cycling for awareness

The wheels keep on turning for Brad Marsh and he couldn’t be happier.

Marsh, accompanied by son, Erik, and daughter, Madeline, was fighting off the tears as he rolled into Scotiabank Place Monday afternoon. Marsh, the 15-year NHL veteran and one of the colourful characters from the Ottawa Senators first season, is now well past the halfway point of his 90-day, 10,000-kilometre cycling odyssey across Canada, raising awareness for the country’s Boys and Girls Clubs.

“It is emotional when you see people come out and support you and get behind what you’re doing,” says Marsh, who began the trek in Vancouver on April 25 and aims to wrap up the journey in St. John’s, Nfld., in mid June. “We’ve had a wonderful time. I believe that we are making a difference and the awareness of the club is getting out there.”

The “we” is the close-knit Marsh family. Erik has been with his father the entire way, cycling roughly 2,000 kilometres of the 5,000 kilometres so far, while also chronicling the trip at facebook.com/bradmarsh90daychallenge and dealing with media coverage.

Marsh’s wife, Patty, was with him for the first 10 days of the ride and finds the rest stops and motels — “a lot of hotels and restaurants wouldn’t fly in the big city because there’s nothing fancy, but the food is awesome,” he says. His son, Patrick, joined him in Calgary and supported him through his climb through the Rockies and his daughters Madeline and Victoria have joined the ride since London.

Marsh says he has enjoyed the splendor of the Rockies and of cycling around Lake Superior in Northern Ontario and of talking to Canadians in big cities and the smallest of no stoplight prairie towns. Marsh generally logs more than 200 kilometres per day – his longest day was a 9 ½ ride into the teeth of the wind and the most ground he’s covered in one spin is 264 kilometres.

He acknowledges there are internal challenges, such as climbing a 70-kilometre climb through the mountains, but he insists that his knees, back and yes, his butt, feel fine.

The goal of the trek is visiting as many Boys and Girls Clubs as possible, playing floor hockey in each one. On Monday, he related the tale of a young boy in B.C. who had become withdrawn following the death of his father six months ago. Given the opportunity to play a semi-competitive game, he came out of his shell and was ecstatic at being awarded the player of the game.

Those are the stories, Marsh says, that have made the trip.

“Some of these kids have never had a chance to play organized sport because they didn’t have the money or the parents don’t give a darn,” he says. “To see a kid score a goal for the first time, in some cases, it’s the first time they’ve celebrated something…that’s what keeps us going.”

Mayor Jim Watson declared Monday Brad Marsh Day in Ottawa and Marsh received two $5,000 cheques – one from the Ottawa Senators Foundation and one from the Ottawa International Hockey Festival – to be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.

Marsh says he doesn’t know how much money he has raised overall.

“I wish I could raise a gazillion dollars, but the bottom line, the focus is the awareness, because the Boys and Girls Club flies under the radar, for whatever reason.”

 

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