“They stepped up for us, and now it’s our turn to step up for them…”
I’ll start by saying this: I’m not a canoe person. But I heard from a friend about the experience of doing an Expedition with True Patriot Love and I was intrigued. It was described to me that we’d be on a trip that would be half soldiers and half civilians—but it was so much more than that.
I went with my son and nephew. It hadn’t been an easy time for us after my brother’s death in a diving accident. From the very start, our adventure was exhilarating and interesting. I was definitely out of my comfort zone—I’m not a canoer or a camper and here we were heading into rugged and remote land on the Keele River the Northwest Territories. The scenery was breathtaking, and we saw bears and eagles and other enchanting wildlife.
The days were challenging with canoeing steep mountain rapids and setting up our sites in all terrain and weather. Once, my nephew and I flipped our canoe, and the water was freezing—only 7 degrees! Like I said, very far out of my comfort zone. But when you’re doing things you normally wouldn’t try to do…and then you succeed! What a feeling.
At the end of every night, we would sit by a bonfire, and the soldiers would share their stories and experiences. You can see and hear and feel how impacted they were, and that these experiences are still very close in their memories…escaping with their lives, losing members of your platoon, trying to kill someone who is trying to kill you… If you haven’t been in the army, you can’t really imagine the intensity. It made me feel lucky and grateful that these are the people looking after us, it really makes you admire the men and women in the Canadian Forces.
You also get the feeling that soldiers and vets have been let down. They stepped up for us, and now it’s our turn to step up for them. That’s why I’ll continue to support True Patriot Love.
Robert Torokvei, Donor, Volunteer Fundraiser and Expedition Participant