So, those of you who have been here before know a bit about my alter-ego, the Silver Stampeder. Here’s a picture from his early days, when some leftover fabric from a homemade KISS costume turned into a free trip to the Grey Cup, and a bit of an obsession.
This ridiculous behavior was encouraged by the likes of TSN and my drinking buddies, and either tolerated or largely ignored by the team itself. I don’t, by the way, in any way blame them for not wanting much to do with me at that point!
I did manage to squeeze two free trips to Grey Cups out of TSN and Frito’s, so on the whole, a pretty worthwhile endeavour. But, once the contests were done, I got to thinking about what I could do with this goofball character that might be either a) entertaining or b) useful.
Of course, option A meant doing all sorts of silliness, including feuding with then-COO Fred Fateri, a lot of acting up in the stands and at tailgates, and I hope it brought some smiles to a few faces. But it felt a little pointless, and I wanted to find a way to make the Silver Stampeder do something useful.
So, I started a campaign to buy the team with Canadian Tire money, which of course was never going to happen – which meant that all the CT cash I gathered went to a very worthy cause – the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. We managed to present them with a bundle of just over $100 in CT money – not much, but it looked impressive.
I caught the fundraising bug with that one, and I wanted to do something bigger, something that would really raise a lot of funds for this wonderful cause. How I hit upon the original idea of the Labour Week Challenge, I can’t actually recall. All I know is, what started out as a costume suddenly became something a lot bigger.
The original plan was to run the entire distance between Calgary and Edmonton with the “game ball” from the Labour Day Classic game, arriving in time for the rematch at Commonwealth on Friday night. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work out quite the way I wanted it to.
Yes, I made it the entire way, and yes, it was under my own power. The big but in the story was my severe lack of training, which resulted in me messing up my knee just outside of Airdrie, and having to rely on my “backup” bike for a large chunk of the trip. It was a huge success, in terms of exposure and fundraising – I think we raised about five grand – but it has always stuck in my gut as a failure.
I’ve been considering another attempt at this – but done properly. This time, there would be no “emergency” bicycle, and there would be a helluva lot more training. I really think, given about a year of work and dedication, that I could actually pull this off. September 2015 is a long ways off, but it might be a goal to fix a failure that’s long been a thorn in my pride.