Gore Bay firefighter to participate in Wounded Warrior’ Highway of Heroes ride

Duncan Sinclair

GORE BAY – Gore Bay resident and firefighter Duncan Sinclair will be taking part in the Wounded Warriors Canada Highway of Heroes Ride this weekend.
 “There are 100 people who have been invited to participate in the Highway of Heroes Bicycle Ride, and I’m among those who have been invited,” said Mr. Sinclair, when contacted by the Recorder late last week. He said that Dan Draper, a retired veteran, invited him to take part. 

“The Highway of Heroes Ride is a 240 kilometre bicycle ride, held over two days, from the CFB (Canadian Forces Base) in Trenton, Ontario to Queen’s Park in Toronto,” said Mr. Sinclair. “Those taking part in the ride include veterans, firefighters, police and paramedics,” he said, noting the WWC supports and honours Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Veterans, first responders and their families.

From 2001 to 2014, more than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members served in the Afghanistan theatre of operations. While Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan made a great difference, this effort has come at a great cost to our nation; 158 CAF members made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace and freedom in Afghanistan and thousands have been physically and or mentally injured as a result of these operations.

Ontario’s Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, better known as Highway 401, crosses through one of the most densely populated areas in Canada. In 2007, a 170 kilometre portion of the highway stretching from CFB Trenton to the Don Valley Parkway (and later Keele Street) in Toronto was designated the Highway of Heroes, reflecting its use as the route for funeral convoys carrying fallen Canadian Armed Forces service men and women from CFB Trenton to the coroner’s office in Toronto.

While unintentional, the funeral processions brought thousands of ordinary Canadians, often led by our communities’ first responders, out to the bridges along the Highway of Heroes to pay their respects to the fallen. No matter how Canadians observed the funeral processions, the experience has woven the Afghanistan mission into the collective fabric of our nation. What’s more, Trenton was also the place where those killed in action from previous conflicts returned to Canadian soil, a WWC release notes.

The Wounded Warriors Canada Highway of Heroes Ride (HHR) will take a group of Canadians along this sacred stretch of highway to raise funds and awareness in support of those living with operational stress injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The riders will carry forward the charity’s mission to Honour the Fallen and Help the Living-connecting with Ontarians along the way as we bring communities back to the bridges in support of our ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, first responders and their families, the release continues.

The ride is held to raise important mental health awareness for ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, and first responders, and to raise funds to support WWC national mental health programs and services.

Thus far, $81,878 has been raised by participants with Mr. Sinclair having raised the most thus far of all participants in this year ride. “I’ve raised over $13,000,” he told the Recorder. over $6,000 above the person with the next highest total raised. “I’ve been beating the bushes to raise funds, and my goal is to raise $15,000.” 

Participants in the Highway of Heroes Ride are only required to raise a total of $1,000 to participate. 

As for getting ready for the long ride to take place this weekend Mr. Sinclair told the Recorder, “I’ve been doing 30 and 60 kilometre rides from Gore Bay to Perivale and back, as well as from Gore Bay to Spring Bay. He pointed out on the actual ride, it is broken into segments of 30 kilometres at a time, with rest breaks in between. 

“This ride is taking place for all first responders (including fire-fighters) and is not just for veterans,” said Mr. Sinclair, who pointed out donations to the WWC are very much appreciated.  

In January, Mr. Sinclair had been in attendance at a Sudbury Wolves hockey game. At every Friday Wolves game during the season they recognized and introduced a first responder or a veteran during a break in the game in the third period. A friend of his, Dan Draper, a retired veteran with the military who does a lot for the Sudbury and area community, set this program up and asked Mr. Sinclair since he is a firefighter with the Gore Bay Volunteer Fire Department if he would take part. As well, Mr. Draper invited Mr. Sinclair to participate in the Highway of Heroes bike ride.