I came down to St. John's a day earlier than usual to attend a reception at 'Government House', hosted by Newfoundland and Labrador's Lieutenant-Governor John Crosbie (former federal cabinet minister) and his wife Jane in honour of Master Corporal Jody Mitic and Corporal Andrew Knisley. The two Canadian Armed Forces veterans suffered serious injuries in combat in Afghanistan, and are running an Acura TL in Targa Newfoundland to raise funds for Soldier On, an organization dedicated to helping wounded soldiers return to civvy street via fitness and sports activities.
It really is an amazing story. (I took a bunch of pics, but interior shots with an iPhone? Er, no...).
Mitic lost both legs below the knee in a land mine encounter; Knisley lost his entire right leg and 70 percent of the use of his right arm in an IED explosion.
The two soldiers had been helped greatly by Soldier On during their rehabilitation, and contacted Maj-Gen (Ret'd) Lewis MacKenzie, himself a Targa veteran, with the idea of using Targa as a fund-raiser.
"It was the easiest thing I have ever done," said MacKenzie at the reception. "It took about 90 seconds and a few phone calls on Bay Street to raise sponsorship funds. I called Richard Jacobs, PR manager for Honda Canada, about supplying a car. He called marketing manager Archie Wilcox, who called Jerry Chenkin, executive vice-president of the company. The TL was committed within an hour."
Additional support has been provided by the Acura Dealers of Canada, especially the St. John's Acura outlet, operated by the father-and-son team of David Tucker Sr. and Jr.
Honda technicians donated their time to get the car prepped. It is not 'hand-controls' - both drivers use prosthetic limbs, and the car's paddle shifter makes it easier for them to shift.
The two drivers have had a few training and test sessions - neither has any real motorsport experience although their personal fleets include such as a Porsche and a Saleen Mustang - and here they are.
They hope to raise $150,000 for Soldier On.
They better not have any trouble reaching this goal, or shame on Canada...