The 2010 UJA Walk with Israel Toronto edition began with a spectacular show of solidarity from members and leaders of the Jewish community as well as politicians from all levels of government.
On this past Sunday, May 30th, 2010, I rushed my wife, and 3 kids to the Ricoh Coliseum on the CNE grounds in Downtown Toronto for the 9:30 registration in preparation from the 10am walk. Sunday was supposed to be a very hot, sunny day and knowing there was little chance my kids would make the entire 7km walk, we wanted to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic speech – the first address by an Israeli Prime Minister to Canada’s Jewish community since Menachem Begin spoke here in 1978 and the first visit by an Israeli Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin travelled to Canada 17 years ago – and then jet off on the course while it was still cool.
But we forgot…
The UJA were working on Jewish Standard Time.
So after loitering in the Direct Energy Centre until almost 11:30am with tired, hungry, cranky kids, and with the speeches nowhere near ending, we set off on the walk with some other eager beavers.
Boy, were my kids cranky! “I’m hungry”, “I’m tired”, “Are we there yet?”, “I have to poo” (thank you kind girls at Ontario Place for letting me sneak in my 5-year-old to use the bathroom). From that standpoint I didn’t think we were going to make it.
After walking, stopping, more walking while listening to them whine, we hit the first checkpoint, at Coronation Park. At the party were some politicians, Rob Ford, Joe Oliver, and Rob Davis. There was music, refillable water bottles the kids could wear, chocolate and balloons. After getting their passport stamp, some praise for making it to the first checkpoint and an unexpected treat (chocolate) the kids decided it was time to move on… Quickly to get to the next checkpoint for more treats.
Our departure from the first checkpoint was slightly delayed as my very conscious 5-year-old was dancing to the music. I could tell that he really wanted to dance but didn’t want to appear our of sync with the rest of the dancers… He was hesitant, but dancing. He’s SO my boy!!!
Checkpoint 2 brought the kids some cherry nibs, blueberry / blackberry smoothie, a beach and bathrooms. The kids found a swan family, with their nest and baby sitting there. At one point my son turned to me and said, “are we going on the canoes, or the beach?”. I turned, puzzled, only to see a giant rack of canoes. LOL. We decided instead to walk-on.
Checkpoint 3 – Simcoe Park – My 5-year-old is now in the stroller and the baby is strapped to my wife’s back. 3-year-old getting cranky and defiant. Demands that I get a taxi to take us back to the car so they can eat hot dogs and go on the bouncy castle. Follows that up with, “I make the rules!!!” I Laugh. We trudge on with the help of the bags of all natural funky vegetable chips they are giving away.
Checkpoint 4 – Popsicles and water. At this point with the big boy in the stroller, the baby strapped to my wife’s back and the little tyrant screaming orders, we were just trying to get moving to the end. It’s not too far, I proclaim, not having looked at a map. My wife, red-faced, overheated and tired says she cannot go on. I encourage her. WOW is it far!!!
We had an unexpected stop behind Fort York to tend to a blister on my wife’s foot. This stop gave me some déjà vu when my DW asked me if I thought it was ok for her to wear sandals. I said probably not a good idea as she gets blisters, but agree that the wind blowing between her toes rather than sweaty socks, is a reason to wear them.
Behind Fort York where a ton of funky looking condo line the roadway blocking off the water from the railway tracks and homeless people, the blister got the better of her and she could not go on. We tried walking in bare feet and were ready to make pick up decisions until another walker offered her a band-aid and everything was right in the world again. Armed with a super-red face, an achy back, blistery foot and a now out cold 3-year-old we set off to finish the walk, a mere 4 ½ hours after we arrived at the registration.
Approximately 7,000 people heard Netanyahu speak and around 15,000 participated in UJA’s annual walk after the speech.
End result… Kids were full of energy but slept great. I burned my arms, the baby was a little dehydrated and my wife… Time will tell.