Monday, September 28, 2015

Bill MacGregor, will ride with Cycling4Diversity again.

Coach Mac calls time out to fix one of the biggest hearts to ever work with kids, slow runners

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PHOTO: GORD KURENOFF, VANCOUVER SUN
The ever-classy Bill MacGregor, a former coach, educator and councillor in Abbotsford, will have quadruple bypass heart surgery next Monday at Royal Columbian Hospital, insisting when he gets out he still needs to add an Ironman to his running bucket list.
ABBOTSFORD — There was a simpler time, long before the bums, Bacon brothers, border lineups, Banman and Braun, that the topical Bs when I lived in this cordial City in the Country were Bibles, blueberries, Baker — and that bubbly Bill.
The blond, brawny “stalker” who would pound on your door every Saturday morning until you answered and who accepted no lame excuse for not “exploring” his latest, greatest training route — or some torturous race course outside of Matsqui (Google that young peeps!) — was actually a sophisticated and popular soul, especially when he wasn’t waking up roosters and reluctant runners.
Coach Mac, a B.C. Lions LIfetime Achievement Award winner, touched a lot of people's lives over a 33-year teaching career — and made champions out of the Abbotsford Senior Panthers.
Coach Mac, a B.C. Lions LIfetime Achievement Award winner, touched a lot of students’ lives over a 33-year education career — and made champions out of the Abby Senior Panthers.
Dr. Bill MacGregor, who is also fondly known as “Coach Mac” in this Fraser Valley postal code, is the reason I began running in organized events. With his help, humour and corny clichés, we were eventually able to clock a sub-39 10K, a 60-minute 10 miler and a smoking-hot time for the first 12.5 miles of Everson’s Run for the Honeywagon half-marathon, before yours truly “crapped out” in the final mile with a “stinking” cramp.
(The “fun” Whatcom County event was notorious for spraying fresh, nasty-smelling manure on the farm fields as you ran past them.)
We became the Batman and Robin of weekend race trips. (He was named after the caped crusader and his wingman was named after the doughnut place … plus I liked car rides!) We had the coolest running T-shirt collection after six months (cool in bachelor speak) and we got to visit all the Washington hot spots such as Sedro-Woolley, Snohomish, Sequim and Sumner. Man, we ran those towns!
His favourite phrase back then was “run fast, have fun, never quit.” Mine was “Bill, you’re freakin’ killing me.”
Today, this blogger’s road speed has all but vanished, but the fun and refusal to quit remains. And the name of this blog — Fun on the Run — is a MacGregor tribute. And there are days when the 66-year-old is likely the only reader!
For a photo tribute to Coach Mac, click HERE.
The former councillor and 2013 winner of the B.C. Lions’ Orange Helmet Lifetime Achievement Award, Coach Mac was also a principal at Abby Senior and Rick Hansen Secondary during his 33 years in the public school system. His Panthers won a high school football championship in 1984, and many of the 9,000 kids he coached and taught have become company and community leaders, doctors, dentists, lawyers and coaches.
Former councillor Bill MacGregor joked that he learned one thing about life in politics: "If you don't like a rumour, wait five minutes and you'll hear another one!"
Former councillor Bill MacGregor joked that he learned one thing about life in politics: “If you don’t like a rumour, wait five minutes and you’ll hear another one!”
Like most pay-it-forward people who live in Canada’s most caring city, MacGregor has a huge heart, which shocked me when I learned last week that it will require complex quadruple bypass surgery next Monday at Royal Columbian Hospital. Ironically, we ran around that facility twice in a 10K race many moons ago joking that just might be our finish line. It was funny back then, when good health seemed guaranteed, but not so much when we discussed it Sunday morning over coffee at Clik Bistro.
As we approach Thanksgiving, and MEC’s rescheduled half-marathon, 10K and 5K at the historic Langley Speedway in Campbell Valley Park that Coach Mac wanted me to “explore” on his behalf (click HERE to register, or for more info), my thoughts, hugs and prayers go out to Dr. Bill, his six children, five grandchildren and his wonderful wife Pam.
Coach Mac, drafted by the B.C. Lions in 1973 as a receiver after award-winning junior years with the Vancouver Meralomas, Boise State and SFU Clansmen, played two pre-season games in the CFL  (one in Calgary and one at old Empire Stadium against the Tiger-Cats) before he opted for a career focusing on pupils instead of pigskin.
He founded the Abbotsford Air Force junior football team in 1987 and has coached rugby, track, cross-country — and whatever games his kids played!
He has also spent time splashing around in dunk tanks to boost funds and awareness for Cycling4Diversity. He spent four years speaking to kids around B.C. about tolerance, gangs, drugs and how “salt and pepper” must learn to live together in harmony.
He ran three Vancouver marathons, several sub-33 10Ks and stayed in shape as a phys ed teacher by running, cycling and lifting weights every day with his students. A dream job he called it.
Michelle Watrin, who is heavily involved with Abbotsford’s annual Run For Waterand who worked on MacGregor’s civic campaign team, can’t say enough good things about her friend.
“When I was teaching in a private school, he asked me if I would be interested in coming to Rick Hansen to teach and help coach the track and field team. I was very touched that he believed in me as a young educator and coach.
“As a principal of Rick Hansen, he surrounded himself with coaches who cared for the kids, because he knows what someone believing in you can do for you. Just as he believed in me, I was blessed to be in a situation where I could believe in some students and give them the confidence to go on and do great things. The ripple effect he has had on many lives is immeasurable.”
Ken Herar, who started Cycling4Diversity, said when Coach Mac talked about being an agent of change, everyone listened.
Bill MacGregor raised the profile of the Cycling4Diversity program with his participation, telling young students that "salt and pepper" must learn to live in harmony.
Bill MacGregor raised the profile of the Cycling4Diversity program with his active participation, telling young students that “salt and pepper” must learn to live in harmony.
“Bill is a gifted public speaker who connects so well with kids. He helped take our program to a whole new level with his participation,” said Herar.
MacGregor, who believes his condition is hereditary, having lost his father and a brother to heart disease, is a survivor and a fighter. He’s endured more than one trip down the so-called road to hell and is confident this one will have a happy ending.
He says a return to running and perhaps another shot at helping his city in public office are on the to-do lists after his full recovery.
“I’ve always wanted to do an Ironman … and for sure get back to running in the shorter weekend events.
“The worst thing about this surgery is I will have to miss the Seahawks playing on Monday Night Football. Let me know how that turns out!”
To the docs who get to work their magic on Coach Mac next week, “work fast, have fun, never quit.” And when you have that guy’s heart open, please insert something that will make him run eight- or nine-minute miles.
Because when he’s feeling better and gets the urge to add to that cool T-shirt collection, he’s going to be knocking on a few doors looking to “explore” all the new undulating courses B.C. has to offer while chirping “no one yet has drowned in sweat” or “we’re taking this one hill at a time” or “to the Batcave, Robin!”
Godspeed buddy.
FOOT NOTES: The Granville Island Turkey Trot, a 10K run, walk or stroll, will be held on Sunday, Oct. 11 and Monday, Oct. 12. For more information, or to register, click HERE.

Friday, September 25, 2015

AbbyFest 2015. See you there.

COLUMN: Different cultures meet and celebrate

On the Spot by Ken Herar
Tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 26) is a day where different cultures meet and celebrate at AbbyFest, which will be celebrating its eighth year at the University of the Fraser Valley campus from 2 to 8 p.m. It plans to be an entertaining event that includes Latin American dancing, African soul food, Chinese clothing rituals, turban wrapping and so much more.
Preet Rai, school trustee and one of the many AbbyFest organizers, said, “We strive to make AbbyFest an experience in the diversity of our community.
“Everything from the display and vendor booths to the entertainment that is ongoing on the main stage includes cultures from all corners of globe, which can be found here in Abbotsford. We are very excited about our partnership with UFV. The partnership is a natural fit for us. UFV has a successful and growing international student body and working together we can promote inclusivity and inter-cultural understanding. We have an incredibly diverse community with nearly 30 per cent of our population listing their native tongue as one other than English or French.
“We are the home of the oldest Sikh temple in North America, and have the third-largest Filipino population in B.C.”
If you’re a new Canadian and looking to start a new business and just don’t have the capital, a microloan is a good place to start. A microloan is a partnership between Abbotsford Community Services and Vancity, where they can assist newcomers to enter the labour market in meaningful employment.
Small loans are designed for newcomers who do not have sufficient credit history in Canada to qualify for traditional forms of credit, but have clearly defined career goals and determination to succeed. It can be used to start a small business; buy tools and equipment needed to start working; or re-certify qualifications from abroad to be able to work in Canada.
Abbotsford Community Services can help individuals in the Fraser Valley to access these loans from Vancity Credit Union.
Microloan intake worker Jen Romero said, “There are many newcomers in our communities who are highly qualified professionals in their home countries, but when they come to Canada, they’re working in survival jobs because their credentials aren’t accepted here. A microloan can be a great way to upgrade their credentials and start working in their field, while at the same time building their credit history in Canada.”
Contact Jen Romero at 604-859-7686 (ext. 28) or microloan@abbotsfordcommunityservices.com
KenHerar@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets a Cycling4Diversity shirt

Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade  allowed Cycling4Diversity founder and Link columnist Ken Herar into his home to meet with Prime Minster Harper to speak about Cycling4Diversity and what they do as a team. He, shared with the Prime Minister that much work still remains in Canada around diversity. Harper said; " In his observation that young people in Canada understand diversity." Harper was grateful for the shirt and the work C4D has done over the past 5 years. Herar said, " I think, he was a bit surprised when I shared with him our team has visited well over 100 schools."