Monday, September 14, 2009

Hippity Hop Down the 20 km Bunny Trail

It was a gorgeous day! It was exactly the kind of weather organizers of the Bunny Hop for Hope had been wishing for: no rain, no scorching heat - just beautiful sunshine, in the low twenties.

At 7:30 AM on Saturday (September 12, 2009), volunteers were meeting in the College Square parking lot (corner of Baseline Rd & Woodroffe Ave). A few yawns could be seen. Some had been up as early as 5:30 AM getting ready for this big day. I was one of them!

Out came bunny ears, bunny costumes, water bottles, backpacks, signs and anything needed to walk nearly 20 km. It was a feat I had never dared to attempt before! I was once very active and fairly athletic, but those days are very far behind me. I'll admit - I was extremely nervous about this walk. Still, I knew that organizers wanted a herd of bunnies this year. It would definitely be more eyecatching. So, to show my support and to encourage the organizers, I signed up.

Regan & Marg (president and vice-president of New Moon) brought out their creative juices and talent to make me a cute soft fuzzy bunny costume, turning me into a Mini-Rex, like my little guy, Jennings. Like everyone else, I giggled shyly as I pulled my bunny "cap" over my head. At least no one would recognize me... right? We were sure to attract attention, which we wanted! How many two-legged walking bunnies do you see on the sidewalks of Ottawa? Or any city, for that matter!

Nearing 8 A.M. - it's showtime! Bill Welychka of 'A' Channel" was presented with his own bunny costume for the event. He would be filming an episode for "Bill's Excellent Adventures!". Without a moment's hesitation, he led us towards Baseline Road, asking questions along the way and waving to cars. The bunny herd behind Bill followed suit. We began to feel more comfortable, enjoying the quizzical looks of passers by.

We walked. And walked. And walked some more! Drivers honked along the way. We gave out fun lollipops (covered with felt bunny faces) to some passengers in stopped vehicles and we explained to people why we were walking in bunny suits. One cheerful cyclist rode up behind us and slowed down to inquire about this funny sight. We told him about New Moon Rabbit Rescue. He thought it was a creative idea and gave a donation! We thanked him for his generosity and gave him a lollipop, along with our gratitude. He had just given us a boost to keep going!

Some of you might be wondering if anyone was monitoring us along the route. No worries! A wonderful volunteer decorated her vehicle with Bunny Hop and New Moon decals, as well as bunny ears and nose! She cheered us on and made sure we were well hydrated, having a cooler filled with water and beverages. We were very well taken care of.

We made our way through Barrhaven, well on our way towards Manotick! Shortly after turning on Jockvale Road, a car drove past us, honking wildly in support. We loved it! We waved and smiled. A few moments later, the same car returned in the opposite direction. It slowed down to a halt. The driver wanted to support us by giving a donation. The lady was so kind and supportive. We were starting to feel the pain in our feet and the fatigue setting in. Her gesture and enthusiasm was exactly what we needed to lift our spirits! She said she would be at the finish line to see our arrival. We couldn't wait to get there!

We were continuing our walk along Jockvale Road when one of the Hoppers pointed to a pick-your-own apples' stand where quite a few people were gathered. She wanted to see if the children would like lollipops. The farmer at the stand couldn't help but wonder why adults dressed up as bunnies were passing by! It wasn't Halloween. It wasn't Easter. So, what were we doing? We explained our walk, told him about the rescue, and mentioned the little "party" held at our finish line. He was touched. He loved animals and wanted to help. He gave us a donation for the rescue and apples for the Hoppers. He was happy to hear of the rabbit rescue's existence in the Ottawa area. And the Hoppers were happy for the apples! Famished and thirsty, the sweet, fresh-picked apples were very much appreciated. All the Hoppers quickly agreed: these apples were incredibly delicious!!! Two paws and two ears way up for Apple Hill Fruit Farm. Thanks again to the kind farmer for the best apples we've tasted!

Next stop: Manotick Mews! Another 30 to 40 minutes or so, we were at the finish line! It was about 12:30 P.M. when we arrived. People were cheering and clapping. There were colourful balloons, great music and yummy smelling BBQ! One of the veggie dogs cooking on the grill was calling my name - I swear I could hear it! We all sat down, ate, drank lots of water and relaxed. It was so nice to see people gathered to help the rabbits of New Moon. The months of planning, the preceding days' frenzy and the blisters on my feet were well worth it! A big thank you to everyone who came out to support New Moon!

I browsed the booths... bake sale, kids' (of all ages!) games, raffle prizes, New Moon Rabbit Rescue products, Jasper's Spaw & Associates and National Capital Vegetarian Association's (NCVA) information kiosk. I stopped to enjoy Rachel McCully's lovely performance too. Before I knew it, it was time for me to hop on a bus and go back to the start line, where I had parked my car. Rideau Bus Lines Ltd offered their services for us, free of charge! No Hopper had to worry about how they would be returning to their vehicle after the walk.

I can say that this bunny slept very well that night. The day had been a success on many levels. Donations were raised, but so was awareness for the rescue and the situation of domestic rabbits! I look forward to next year's Bunny Hop for Hope. With wonderful supporters, sponsors and volunteers, I just know it will be as succesful as this year's event, if not more!

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