You may recall that in episode four of The Amazing Race Canada Tim Jr. and I had the opportunity of reciting some of the prose of Robert W. Service. We memorized a stanza out of his famous poem “Dangerous Dan McGrew” as our speed bump for having come in last in episode three. I recently had the opportunity of meeting another “Dangerous Dan” and I have to tell you his story.
I received a phone call one day saying, “My father Dan is 80 years old with Parkinson’s disease and he started out last year on a bike trek across Canada to raise awareness for those living with Parkinson’s. He has biked from the far northern reaches of The Northwest Territories and made it all the way to Portage la Prairie before being injured and needing to call off his trip. He has restarted and will be in Winnipeg tonight and I am wondering if you would be willing to meet him and say hello?”
I’m not sure what I actually said on the phone but what was going on in my mind was, “What the heck? 80?? Where and when?” I had to meet this gentleman; the nurse in me needed to make sure that this guy was okay because this sounded crazy.
You see, as coincidence would have it, I had a rotten week the prior week. The best that I can figure is that I had overdone it on my bike, I was extremely tired, very down and quite honestly lacking the ability to pull myself back up. And now I hear about an 80-year-old with Parkinson’s biking across Canada. What the heck?
The first thing I learn about Dan on meeting him is that he is not 80…he’s 81. Standing before me is a slightly hunched, shuffling, elderly man who is all alone in Winnipeg. Yes, you read that right, alone. To say that I am at this moment very concerned would be an incredible understatement. I’m baffled that this guy would be doing this; I’m beside myself that he would be allowed to do this alone. And then I watch and listen.
Dan thinks I’m crazy. I manage to mutter a few words of how inspired I am by him and how amazing he is and his response is ‘why, what’s so amazing?’ and he seems to mean it. You see Dan has cycled lots over the course of his 81 years and this is just one more opportunity to take out the bike and prove he’s still got it. Well, he has, in dangerous spades!
Dan is dangerous, I figure, on a couple of counts. One, he’s clearly pushing the limits of what is considered sane for most 81 year olds to be out doing. I don’t think I’m far off to suggest that biking across Canada alone at 81 could be considered an extreme sport. More importantly Dan is dangerous to us, or more precisely, to our way of thinking. He has thoroughly shaken me out of my lethargy, moved me once again to get up, get out and do more. He’s shaken me out of my safe place, my comfortable place that suggests I’m doing enough when I’m really not. At 49 I’m not living out on the edge with Dan tasting the sweet, exhilarating success that he is.
If you would like to read Dan’s story you can find it at facebook.com/dan.mcguire.100. Dan and I share a similar passion of bringing awareness to this disease that has entered our lives. If you are so inclined we would welcome your help. For Dan in raising funds for the Parkinson’s Society of BC and for me in joining Tim’s Team for the Parkinson’s SuperWalk here in Winnipeg September 6th. You can join Tim’s Team at www.superwalk.ca.
Thanks Dangerous Dan! You have truly inspired us all.