For the past 40 years, North Shore Rescue has been helping folks who play in the mountains above Vancouver, Canada, get home safely. As one who lives and plays on the 'Shore, I frequently see the rescue helicopters. I read of rescues in our community newspaper and I hear the occasional inside story from friends who volunteer with NSR to get up in the middle of the night and help lost or injured people. NSR depends on grants and donations to fund its programs and operating costs. To most who visit the mountains of the north shore, NSR is there like an insurance policy: out of mind until that unfortunate time when it's needed.
Like most folks, I'd rather hit myself on the head with a hammer than think about insurance. I supported NSR in spirit and with the occasional donation whenever someone I know shook me down. Then I went MIA (missing in action) while out bagging peaks. I'll spare you the details of what it was like to spend a cold, October night on a remote mountain peak under a tinfoil blanket with my running buddy. I'll swear under oath that there was no need for a rescue. To make a long story short, however, I benefited from a helicopter ride home thanks to NSR. Since then, I've been acutely aware of the value of that insurance policy and an active fundraiser for NSR.
This July I'm planning to complete the KneeKnackering North Shore Trail Run for the 20th time. I stumbled across the event when I came to Vancouver in 1991. The KneeKnacker introduced me to the North Shore mountains. The people I met during the training runs (Enzo, Ron, Neil, Paul, Brian, Peter, Darren, Tony... you know who you are) became, and have remained, my best pals. My wife has completed the 50K/30-mile race in under the 10-hour time limit. She and my kids look forward to managing the Cleveland Dam aid station every year. I've completed 105 ultras around the world, but the KneeKnacker is the one I want to return to each year. On the occasion of attempting #20, I'd like to do something for the race that's done so much for me.
So how to reconcile what I hope to be my 20th KneeKnacker with helping North Shore Rescue?
I've been thinking about this a lot since KneeKnacker Race Director Kelsy Trigg and the Grandpappy of the KneeKnacker, Enzo Federico, ganged-up on me a couple of weeks ago. For years and years, the KneeKnacker has supported NSR with a check. This year, Kelsey, Enzo and the event organizing team are reaching out to participants to support NSR in a more active way by asking they be personally accountable for a donation.
Hang tight... I'm getting to the punch line. There's another tangent I have to clarify first...
The Demise of the Canadian One Cent Piece
Canada is doing away with the penny.
Yes, that familiar brown 1-cent coin is going the way of the dodo bird. My understanding is that the last Canadian penny was minted just minutes ago on Friday 4 May 2012.
This begs the question, "What is going to happen with all of the pennies that are in circulation?"
The KneeKnacker/NSR Penny Drive
Which brings me to my request of you. Please give your pennies to NSR.
I'd like to raise $500 for NSR this way. That's 50,000 (fifty thousand) pennies.
I will start by empting the beer mug of pennies that is sitting on my desk into a bucket that's labeled "KneeKnacker NSR Penny Fund". By the end of the day, I'll collect from my wife and my kids and toss their pennies into the bucket. I'll fish through my sock drawer and my pockets and I'll stuff my hands down the sides of the sofa until there's not a penny left in my house. I'll spark-up the metal detector and I'll fish for pennies in the yard and under the deck. By the end of the weekend, I aim to have all of my family's pennies doing something useful.
Tomorrow is the North Shore Enduro trail run. It's on a wonderful 7.6K loop course in the North Shore mountains, so it's perfect for beginning runners. For those who want more, you can keep on running for up to 6-hours and challenge the record of 7 laps. It's one of 2 Club Fat Ass "open house" events that are free to anyone who is new to the Club. Not much time left, but I'm going to try and get the word out that I'll collect pennies for NSR at the Enduro, too. Please tell your friends to come out for a run... and to collect their pennies and bring them along. We can put them in Piggie and I'll dump them in the bucket when I get home.
I'll also collect pennies at each of the CFA runs I participate in between now and this years KneeKnacker race. In fact, I’ll collect pennies at any training run I participate in, too. If you come by my place with pennies, I'll let you put them in the bucket.
Just so you don’t think I will spend your pennies on beer, I'll take a photo of the inside of the bucket each week and post it here. I'll also post the names of everyone who contributes one (1) cent or more below so when it comes time to make the donation, NSR will know who to thank. No, I can't give you a tax receipt. Yes, if you want to count how many pennies you chip in, I will note that when I acknowledge your donation.
Remember the story about the dude who swapped a paper-clip for a house in Saskatchewan? If you tell your friends and they tell their friends, if you tweet, Facebook and otherwise let folks know what to do with their useless pennies, maybe we could get NSR a helicopter!
Woo hoo... this is going to be fun!