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A wonderful friend


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Today I share with you my experience walking with my new friend John T. a 76 year old retiree from Mississauga, Ontario.

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A wonderful friend

  1. 1. A Wonderful Friend On Saturday, February 22, 2014 I participated with more than 200 walkers and runners in Regeneration Outreach of Brampton’s Coldest Night of the Year Campaign. Together we raised over $51,000 to help Regeneration provided daily breakfast and care for the homeless in Brampton. On the evening of the event I met John T. a 76 year old retiree from Mississauga at the start of the walk. At the start of the walk our goal was to walk 10K. While the theme of the event was the Coldest Night of the Year, it was far from being the coldest night as the temperature and wind chill was relatively mild. The greatest challenge for us and the other 200 participants was the ice on the sidewalk. In fact heading east on Queen Street John T. slipped once and luckily he did not hurt himself. We both acknowledged that the sidewalks were treacherous and therefore, at times we walked on the side of the road. At 46 year old I had to be on top of my A-game to keep slightly ahead of John T. He is brisk walker and his endurance is remarkable and admirable. John T. and I were among the leading walkers and runners. For our two man team I became the defacto navigator whileJohn set the pace. Heading north on Dixie, I missed the markers to turn west on Howden Street. This would have taken us back to the starting point at Century Gardens Recreation Centre on Vodden Street. Consequently, we ended walking north to Williams Parkway where we eventually turned and headed into a westerly direction. On several occasions we had towalk on the side of the road facing the oncoming trafficbecause the sidewalks were too icy and slippery. Some motorists had to literally come to full stop when they saw us. Others honked their horns perhaps annoyed by two grown men walking on such a busy street. For me walking on Williams Parkway was extremely frightening. I can only imagine that John T. was scared too but if he was never showed any signs of fear. The street was dark and the vehicular traffic was heavy. At one point I tried calling my friend Myrol to see if he could come and pick us. I even thought of flagging down a police car for help. John T. and I walked for close to two hours. Along the way we shared a lot about ourselves with each other. I learned that his youngest child was at least 2 years older than I am and that he had grandchildren as old as Marchelle and Malcolm, my two older children. We quickly developed a level of trust and respect for each. Our trust and respect helped us get through the path of our journey along Williams Parkwaythat was most dangerous. Eventually from Williams Parkway we turned onto Rutherford and headed back to our point of origin. At the end of the walk we high five and hugged each other. From my estimation we walked about 15K and during that time developed trust, respect and friendship. When weeventually bid goodbye to each other at Century Gardens Recreation Centre I gave John of my business cards and told him to please keep in touch. Below I share an email I receive from John T. late Thursday, February 27, 2014 just before I retired: Dear Mark,
  2. 2. Sorry it took so long to e-mail you – I had not forgotten you but had misplaced your business card. Luckily Henny, my wife found it, so here goes. First of all, thanks again so much for letting me walk with you and for taking such good care of me. Henny, too, says thank you. We sure walked a good distance that evening and I guess that at the end I was flagging a bit, but you always patiently waited for me. I have never walked so far over such terrible sidewalks. I’m glad that the weather was not so cold as it is now, I would have frozen to death for sure. You are a wonderful friend and I would like to see us meet again. Again, many thanks John T. Below I share my reply to John T.’s email: Hello John, Your email warms my heart. I am so happy to receive your email and very kind words. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my purpose in life and have concluded that one my purpose is to impact the lives of those whom I come in contact with. I was deeply troubled when we were walking along Williams Parkway as it was extremely treacherous and busy. I was extremely worried and at one point I actually tried calling my friend to see if he could come and get us. I share this now to say that I do care about you. I was at times a bit apprehensive but at those moments I knew my task was for us to return safely. John we high fives and embraced at the end...and I did say we were brought together for a purpose...and for me that purpose was to form friendship, admiration and respect for each other. John, if I get to 76 and can walk the distance you walked last Saturday I think I would have done inspire me! Please tell Henny hello for me and please call me anytime. Sincerely, Mark Have you met a wonderful friend recently? How did you meet? Mark McKenzie is a leading Subject Matter Expert in financial services regulation and supervision as well as a professional motivational speaker, corporate trainer and youth mentor. He can be contacted by
  3. 3. email or by telephone 647-406-4622. Read my blog and always write me a comment and share. Follow me on Twitter @mackynacky. Connect with me on, Google+, Facebook and Linkedin.