This will be the first piece of writing I have done since the passing of Paxton. There will be two parts to this piece. First I want to address a question I have been getting a lot regarding what our plans are as a family regarding memorials for our son. Many people out there have expressed an interest in being involved in some way in a memorial. My wife and I have spoken about it and we want to make things as accessible as possible. Paxton reminded us both of how wonderfully blessed we are to have the types of people we have in our families. Our support has been amazing and we want to remember Paxton in a way that honors this.
I am writing today with a whole new out look on life. On the things that can be considered hard.
On October 13th, 2012 at around noon my wife gave birth to our first born son, Paxton Michael Bell. He was a beautiful perfect little boy. But when he was born he was not breathing. He was taken away from us as quickly as he had arrived. My family was moved to BC Children’s Hospital and Paxton and Rebecca began receiving the most amazing care I have ever had the privilege to witness.
Over the next 2 days the doctors and specialists cared for Paxton and worked around the clock to try and determine what had happened. In the end they came to us with the most terrifying news I have ever received in my life. During the labor there was some sort of problem that prevented the umbilical chord from delivering the things it needed too him, specifically gases like Oxygen. They think it occurred somewhere in the 2nd half of the labor process and was prolonged enough that Paxton suffered an acute, sever brain event. There was no part of him that was not impacted. Our perfect boy, a perfect pregnancy for my wife, had grown just the way he should have and had everything robbed of him.
The Doctors then told us he was unlikely to survive and that they did not feel there was anything more medicine could do for him. Late Tuesday we had to take the life shattering choice to take Paxton off of vital supports to see if he had enough function to even support his vital operations. After a fight that seemed to last an eternity it was obvious he did not and he passed quietly cradled in his mothers arms. The perfect picture of an infant that never had the chance to show his true colours.
Rebecca and I love him with all our hearts after only a short time. Even though he never had a chance with us here we got to know him and his personality over the last 9 months. He has forever changed things for us. Cycling and its challenges seem small compared to what he fought against. We will miss him.
After my last race of the season at the Pro Sprint Challenge I started some other work. Since the Olympics I have spent a lot of time trying to manage my thoughts regarding what happened to me there with my form and performance. I decided that sooner or later I had to go about using what momentum I had from the games to do some good work. Even if I didn’t get the result I wanted there I think sharing that experience and the journey to that level is still powerful enough to inspire some good in my fellow human being.
After picking up a nice win over some of the worlds best sprinters at the Pro Sprint Challenge I zipped home for a couple of days and then set off for Calgary. I was the guest speaker for a major fundraising event for Wellspring. This is a Cancer Treatment center in Calgary. The event was call Cancervive and was basically a Gala and silent auction for a group of athletes that will ride from Calgary to Maine for the Dempsey Challenge in a few weeks. It was a group of 500 People and the biggest speaking engagement I have had. It was a lot of fun at the end of the day and I was part of an event that must have raised somewhere in the neighborhood of 100K. I don’t know the numbers but I have to think it was close to that. I put in a jersey for the live auction and that evolved into me having my shirt taken off on stage by 2 ladies and then putting the jersey on. There was a lot of cheering at first when all the ladies thought they where going to see the bod of an Olympian. But when the shirt came off and they realized cyclists are just pasty Mr. Bean doppelgangers with a farmers tan the cheers turned to laughter.
From there I headed back to the great white north of the Yukon for a charity ride I organized to benefit a fund I am starting called the “Sport Access Fund”. I organized this in 10 days with the help of a very small group of volunteers. Let me tell you this is only possible in the Yukon. In 8 days we got an RCMP escort, media promotion, got the fund set up so we could offer tax receipts and got local members of government out. After seeing the people of the Yukon in action I think they should host Road Nationals. Seems like all the logistical problems are solvable up there. We had a Kids ride with a good turn out and about 10 hard core Yukon riders come out for 50 km ride with me. I have to say it was a huge honor and a great feeling to ride beside the YUKON river in the kit I earned by making the Olympic team.
At the end of it all we raised a modest $2000 or so that will be used to help kids access spots on the territorial teams for things like Canada games. This is just the beginning and I am working on setting it up to accept online contributions now so stay tuned. 100% of the funds raised go to Access Fund and I think it has the ability to play a role in changing the lives of a few Yukon kids each year.
In all this I also found time to visit 3 Schools. All elementary schools. I have to say this is my favorite age group to speak to. They are just so fun and interested. I also know that this is the age you can really start a dream that can guide them for the rest of their lives.
Best quote from the school visits was “Your voice sounds like the Hulk from the Avengers!!!”” I must mumble more then I think. Close second was “Cool I have never met one of YOUR people before.” I could only assume she was referring to my status as an Olympian and not some other random fact regarding my physical or other attributes.
One more blog post before the racing starts. We are in to the village for good now and it has been a great experience. The Canadian staff really have it together which is so good. When things run smoothly and questions get answered it goes a long way towards helping you settle.
As at the last games, roaming around this area with a population that is about half that of Whitehorse and 10x that of Watson Lake where I grew up it is hard to imagine putting something like this together. It is also hard to find someone who is what you might say is average in terms of physiology. If the Olympic village had a “Welcome to…” sign it would probably say “be sure to look up”. Seems like everyone here is well over 6 foot. I had forgotten that in my 4 years away.
Now I am just down to the business of settling in. I am enjoying the track…I feel comfortable in the atmosphere…I have been buoyed by all the notes of support over the last 48 hours (there must have been 300 or more come through my Facebook fan page). Just through day 2 and the games is already shaping up to be something special.