Gordon Bell - Walking the Walk
Returning to the Trails
In 1987 I started doing Volksmarches (organized non-competitive walks) with my wife Michele and a friend Jamie, as a way of exercise and too help Mich settle into life in Ottawa (since I uprooted her from Saskatoon). Jamie told us about an upcoming walk in Sharbot Lake and Mich immediately thought it would be a good idea. So off we went with Jamie, and a few other friends to do the walk at Sharbot Lake. It was a nice drive and a warm, but pleasant walk and so started our walking experience.
Over the next few years we continued along many a trail and met some really wonderful people not only from Ottawa, but from other parts of Canada and the US. Also our family expanded, so we introduced our children Nicholas and Samantha to the walks as a family activity as well as a healthy choice from the onslaught of cartoons on the TV. It is still fun to think of the times that we had with either one of the children on my front or on my back and in some cases both on at the same time. The children received an event stamp for each walk they participated in, but to get the distance they would have to walk the WHOLE 10km. Even today people still recognize us as the parents with the kids in the little red wagon!
As our children grew their activities and my business travel put a stop to our walking activities. Our lives were just too hectic with all the activities, most of which were on the days when walks were being held. Well events and life moves on, and in 2008 I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer. As part of my recovery plan from the surgery I started walking again. Just doing 5 & 10 km trails around the Barrhaven area where the start point was the house. Then one Friday Jamie called and asked if I wanted to do a Guided Walk that was being run on the weekend, Volksmarching had fallen from my mind until Jamie reminded me, so off we went to the walk. I ran into a lot of people I had walked with before and it was a happy reunion. Since then I have again renewed my affair with Volkssporting.
So while I was undergoing my Chemo treatment I would walk during the week around Barrhaven and on the weekends walk with the Ottawa clubs, which I am know helped me recover from this disease. On the 2 Feb 2009 I completed my last chemo session and from all indications I will be in remission (fingers and toes crossed). During the six months of sessions I had been able to walk 625 km.
What the Volkssport brings back to me after my absence is not just the award program, but a whole social aspect that one does not get when you walk alone. I have rekindled old friendships and look forward to the weekly walks and lunches that bring young and old together for some healthy exercise and comradely. While I am on the walks it is always interesting to meet the people, and enjoy the scenery that the walk provides. I always carry a camera because I can always find something interesting to snap. Ottawa and the entire region provide some of the best walking trails and views in Canada, and for a lot or lifetime residents these walks seem to always find something that even they haven’t seen.
Why do I walk? For the fun of it, the friendship, the scenery we pass, and for my health and wellbeing. It is not only a means for physical health but one of both mental and spiritual health. I learned that while I was recovering, and it helped clear the cobwebs from each Chemo session. The friendship on the trail is also a positive vibe that helped me on my journey.
Over the years Mich and I have lots of pictures from our walks. These days I continue that trend and have an electronic photo album that people can view, it can be found at Flickr.
See you on the trail!
Gord has been empowered to take control of his health. The Cancer Foundation faciltates that empowerment through the cancer coaching and programs offered at the Maplesoft Centre. These services are offered at no cost to the patient and a medical referral is not required. The programs are made possible because of the generosity of donors to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Please support the Foundation and help improve the lives of cancer survivors in our community.