Vanguard, Saskatchewan – Home Base!

Before I set out to see this province on my hike for Huntington Disease awareness and research, I thought I would like to profile my hometown of Vanguard, Saskatchewan by doing a little walking tour.

We are celebrating Canada’s 150 this Saturday, July 8.  There will be a social, dance, inflatable battle rings, and a huge fireworks display.

Here is where I am from:

 

Links:

Here is a link to my fundraising page. 

Please also check out the Huntington Society of Canada’s website.  It has a ton of information and articles.

Follow me on Twitter @gshwaga – Please like or retweet if you can. It gets my message to more people that way.

Follow me on Facebook: Greg Shwaga or my event page @GregsHDwalkSK

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Packing!

Water, t-shirts, shorts, jogging shoes, sunscreen, bug spray and that is about it!  That is my list for my 676-kilometre hike across the province of Saskatchewan in my attempt to raise awareness of and funding for Huntington Disease research.  I have published my itinerary here and as expected it will already have to be adjusted. I have an interview scheduled with CTV on July 13, as well as a potential media opportunity in Moose Jaw later that morning.

The pace has definitely picked up here in the last couple of days.  My best friend John Bickner at Bickner Trucking Ltd. in Vanguard, SK was concerned about my safety and well-being while on the road.  He made more than a few calls and managed to secure a few sponsors so that I would be looked after in terms of accommodations and nutrition. So far, Bickner Trucking Ltd. in Vanguard, Sterling Truck and Trailer Sales Ltd. in Regina, The Village of Vanguard, and Full Line Ag Ltd. in Swift Current have come together in order to help me across the province (I have one more to come, but will release that information shortly).   Level Coaching has put together a comprehensive nutrition plan for me to follow in order to minimize the chances of me basically self-destructing on the side of the highway in the middle of the province (let’s face it in my mind I still feel anywhere from 7-17 years old, but at 46 I’m a bit of a geezer).

I also have had some other help along the way.  Sport Chek in Swift Current set me up with some jogging shoes and athletic socks, Swift Current Pharmasave and Walmart Swift Current provided me with bottled water for the trip and Et Cetera in the Swift Current Mall even gave me a microwave steamer so that I can raffle it off to all my Twitter and Facebook followers and retweeters.

Thanks everyone for helping me out!

In addition, thank you to everyone who has been donating to the Huntington Society of Canada online and through me.  I set my goal of 10,000 dollars, and I am basically there already and still four days away from starting the walk. Thank you so much!

I also have some readers tuning in from places like India, Finland, The UK and the United States.  Welcome!  I should tell you about Saskatchewan:

My home province of Saskatchewan is a trapezoid in the middle of Canada. We are one of only two landlocked provinces in our country (though we have about 100,000 lakes most of which nobody ever sees).   We are slightly larger than the country of France in area but with 65 times fewer people.  Yes, that means we only have about 1 million people in our entire province.  Our 1 million people though, produce a whole lot of food (if you have eaten bread, margarine, or lentils, you’ve likely had a taste of Saskatchewan), oil and gas (unless you are from the United States though, you likely haven’t had our oil.  We only get to sell it to ourselves or the United States – long story.) and Uranium (if your electricity is generated by a nuclear reactor, the uranium used to power it came from us). Also, potash; if your farmers put fertilizer on their fields it probably came from about 3500 feet below the surface of my province. We are kind of the Saudi Arabi of potash.

We produce a lot of hockey players too!

What is Huntington Disease(7)?

One aspect of the disease that I haven’t touched on at all, is the Juvenile form of Huntington Disease or Juvenile HD. I was contacted today by someone that has been affected by this form of Huntington Disease and this manifestation of HD is very sad indeed.

About 10% percent of HD cases are of the juvenile form.  Whereas most HD victims remain asymptomatic until around 30-50 years of age, the juvenile incarnation hits kids in their teens (plus or minus a few years) and it hits them hard.  Generally speaking, if a teen starts showing symptoms of HD, they won’t see 30 years of age.  Misdiagnosis is more likely here too, because a child may show signs before the parent from which they inherited the disease. Symptoms are similar to adult-onset HD with less likelihood of chorea (dance movements) but more likelihood of epileptic seizures.

Here is a video that explains Juvenile HD:

Featured Town:

Wilkie SK

Wilkie’s population is about 1300 people.  It is named after Daniel Robert Wilkie who was president of the Imperial Bank of Canada from 1906-1914.  From what I can tell, all of the streets in Wilkie are named after their founder or after the Imperial Bank. The Imperial Bank was the forerunner of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  I started my first bank account with the CIBC because it was the “Bank of the (Toronto) Blue Jays” and because of this commercial:

I should be in Wilkie July 11.

Training Update:

I have effectively shut myself down until Monday.  I did go out for a walk with my wife and some friends yesterday that lasted for about 9 kilometres. I took this picture:

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Interesting note:  I lived in British Columbia for six years.  My son was born there.  B.C. was great.  I even wrote about it here. My born and raised B.C. friends would say they could never be without their mountains.  I always felt like the mountains were in the way!

Links:

Here is a link to my fundraising page. 

Please also check out the Huntington Society of Canada’s website.  It has a ton of information and articles.

Follow me on Twitter @gshwaga – Please like or retweet if you can. It gets my message to more people that way.

Follow me on Facebook: Greg Shwaga or my event page @GregsHDwalkSK

Follow me here at www.igslearn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Plans!

I have worked out a tentative schedule for my walk across the province of Saskatchewan in support of Huntington Disease research and awareness.  I totally expect the schedule to be ruined by noon of the first day but if all goes as planned (which it never does) I should be on the road from July 10-27.  Here is the breakdown:

July 9 – Sunday

Leave from my hometown of Vanguard SK.  Drive to Macklin.

July 10 – Monday

7:00 a.m. – Leave the Alberta/Saskatchewan border.

8:00 a.m. – Arrive in Macklin SK – The rest of the towns are all in Saskatchewan.

10:30 a.m. – Arrive in Evesham 

I won`t see any other towns today.

Total Kilometres:  44

July 11 – Tuesday

7:00 a.m. start

11:00 a.m. – Arrive in Unity

7:30 p.m. – Arrive in Wilkie

Total Kilometres:  49

July 12 – Wednesday

6:00 a.m. start

I won`t see any new towns today. I will be between Wilkie and Biggar

Total Kilometres : 45

July 13 – Thursday

6:00 a.m. start

11:30 a.m. – Arrive in Biggar

No new towns.

Total Kilometres: 42

July 14 – Friday

6:00 a.m. start

8:30 a.m. – Arrive in Perdue

4:00 p.m. Arrive in Asquith

Total Kilometres: 45

July 15 – Saturday

7:00 a.m. – start

1:00 p.m. – Arrive in Saskatoon

Total Kilometres: 25

July 16 – Sunday

Recovery Day in Saskatoon

July 17 – Monday

6:00 a.m. start

No towns on the road between Saskatoon and Humboldt.

Total Kilometres: 50

July 18 – Tuesday

6:00 a.m. start

No towns on the road today.

Total Kilometres: 50

July 19 – Wednesday

6:00 a.m. start

9:00 a.m. – Arrive in Humboldt

12:00 noon – Arrive in Muenster

3:00 p.m. – Arrive in St. Gregor

5:30 p.m. – Arrive in Englefeld

Total Kilometres: 47

July 20 – Thursday

6:00 a.m. start

8:00 a.m. – Arrive in Watson

3:00 p.m. Arrive in Quill Lake

6:00 p.m. – Arrive in Clair

Total Kilometres: 44

July 21 – Friday

6:00 a.m. start

11:30 a.m. – Arrive in Wadena

3:30 p.m. – Arrive in Kylemore

6:00 p.m. – Arrive in Kuroki

Total Kilometres: 43

July 22 – Saturday

8:00 a.m. start

10:00 a.m. – Arrive in Margo

1:00 p.m. – Arrive in Invermay

Total Kilometres: 23

July 23 – Sunday

Rest in Yorkton

July 24 – Monday

6:00 a.m. start

8:30 a.m. – Arrive in Rama

12:30 p.m. – Arrive in Buchanan

6:30 – p.m. – Arrive at Good Spirit Lake

Total Kilometres:  50

July 25 – Tuesday

6:00 a.m. start

3:00 p.m. – Arrive in Springside

6:30 p.m. – Arrive in White Spruce

Total Kilometres – 42

July 26 – Wednesday

7:00 a.m. start

9:30 a.m. – Arrive in Yorkton

12:30 p.m. – Arrive in Tonkin

Total Kilometres: 45

July 27 – Thursday

7:00 a.m. start

9:30 a.m. – Arrive in Wroxton

4:00 p.m. – Jump in the Lake of the Prairies! (Saskatchewan/Manitoba border)

Total Kilometres: 32

Spend the evening concluding my trip in Esterhazy, SK

Total Kilometres: 676

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Closer!

I am 10 days away from starting my walk across Saskatchewan!  My school year is all wrapped up.  It is always a little sad at the end of the year knowing that another year is gone but there is also a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.

My campaign is going very well.  I am over 70% towards my stated goal and still haven’t started the walk yet.  Also, there have been a couple of interesting developments. Some folks are concerned about my safety and well-being and as a result, have been working towards potential sponsorship so that I have a pilot vehicle, places to rest at night, and proper nutrition.  I will have a formal announcement with details once it is all in place, but isn’t that cool?

What is Huntington Disease (6)?

Quick Facts:

  1.  1 in 7000 people in Canada has HD.
  2.  1 in 5500 Canadians is at risk of developing HD.
  3.  1 in 1000 Canadians is affected by HD in some way.
  4. A direct genetic test to determine if an individual has inherited the HD gene was developed in 1993.  Most people at risk do not get tested.
  5. Huntington Disease is an autosomal dominant inheritance.  This means if you inherit the HD gene you will get the disease.

 

Featured Town:

Unity, SK

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Unity is a town with a population of 2389 people. It started as a small settlement in 1904 and was the subject of a 2001 award-winning play about the 1918 flu pandemic.   It is 59 kilometres from Macklin, meaning that I will likely be in Unity on July 11.

Check here for a list of things to do in Unity. It is a good list.

Training Update:

I have started to limit the kilometres that I am putting on in training.  I might as well save them for July 10.

One very large upside of just walking is being able to see the countryside.  I used to run the same routes when I would be training for running events or just jogging, but I never enjoyed the scenery as much when I ran as opposed to when I now walk. Here are some pictures:

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Did You Know:

At my height (5 feet, 11 inches) on flat terrain, the horizon will be about 5 kilometres away. Therefore, in order to make it across Saskatchewan along my route, I will have to “walk to the horizon” about 140 times.

Most Listened to Song on My Playlist:

Nothing Compares – Third Day

I am going back to Third Day for this one.  For some songs, you immediately want to pick up a guitar and play along.  This is one of those songs.

 

 

 

 

I did, in fact, pick up the guitar to play this song, but instead of playing the original A, E, F#m chord progression, I switched to G, D, and Em (In fact my computer even knows I don’t like playing any other chords so it just automatically transposes for me now.) As I started playing, it reminded me of this 1998 Semisonic song.

 

 

 

 

 

Please visit my fundraising page at the Huntington Society of Canada.

You can also follow me on Twitter (@gshwaga). Please retweet so that my campaign updates get in front of as many people as possible.

You can also follow my event on Facebook:  @Greg’s Walk for Huntington Disease

 

 

 

British Columbia: Just a Little Different

I lived in British Columbia for six years.  The province is flat out awesome!  It is, however, a little different than the rest of Canada.  Growing up in Saskatchewan, we used to have one or maybe two television channels on a good day.  Everything seemed to happen outside of Saskatchewan in places like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.   Furthermore, our roads and railways always seemed to me to be taking everything outside of Saskatchewan to far off destinations. As a result, I, like many other residents of Saskatchewan, saw myself as Canadian first, and a Saskatchewanian second. I learned very quickly that this was not the case in British Columbia.  People from British Columbia are British Columbian first.

Even just a quick glance at the province shows that British Columbia is a bit different than its provincial brothers to the east. For one, it is separated from the rest of Canada by the mountains. It has more geographic features and climate variation than perhaps the rest of Canada combined.  Its economy and trade patterns are different.  British Columbia also has differences when it comes to history.

First Nations people inhabited British Columbia first.  That is no different. There is, however, this Spanish element to British Columbia that the rest of Canada does not have. Spanish explorers explored the coast of British Columbia well before Alexander Mackenzie got scared off by the Heiltsuk Nation and painted his name on a rock in 1793.  Even the fur trade was based on sea otter pelts and not beaver like the rest of Canada.

British Columbia is very much like the rest of Canada, in that it came from what was left over from the United States.  At first part of British North America left after the American Revolution, British Columbia and the rest of the great North-West became of interest to American president James Polk in 1844.  Basically, the United States became really good at expanding.  The 1800s was a great time to be an American and there was this view that it was just simply a natural progression that all of North America would eventually be the United States. This was known as Manifest Destiny and it is an idea that a few historians and economists would suggest has never really died.  In 1844, however, it wasn’t just an idea, it was a belief that many Americans, including Polk, felt should be acted upon. He was even willing to go to war over it.  His battle cry was “54’40 or fight”.  This meant that James Polk wanted the United States to extend to the 54th parallel, not the present day 49th parallel. If this were to happen in present day Canada, the border would be north of places like Edmonton, Prince George and Saskatoon and about where Smithers, Slave Lake and La Ronge are located.  Essentially 98% of Canada’s population would be American.

Needless to say, this never happened.  Great Britain worked out a deal with the United States that established the 49th parallel as the border between the United States and Canada.  A few years later in 1858, a gold rush in the Fraser Valley brought many people to British Columbia (it wasn’t known as British Columbia yet)  and it would later join Canada as a full province in 1871.

Here is a brief video summary: