Seattle hearts Canada

Amer­i­can drives 7000 kilo­me­ters to thank peo­ple of Gan­der

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY JOSH HEALEY THE BEA­CON Twit­ter: @joshrjhealey josh.healey@tc.tc

It took him 16 years and over 7000 kilo­me­ters of driv­ing, but Mark Ufkes has fi­nally made it to Gan­der.

Ufkes, who lives in Seattle, WA, ar­rived in town last week and met with Mayor Claude El­liott to share his gratitude for the role that Gan­der played dur­ing 9-11.

“It was such a great state­ment of true hu­man­i­tar­i­an­ism,” said Ufkes.

Ufkes has been con­tem­plat­ing a road trip to Gan­der for years but fol­low­ing a re­cent car ac­ci­dent, he de­cided it was time. He left his home in Seattle weeks ago.

“9-11 was such a dif­fi­cult time for the Amer­i­can peo­ple. When the peo­ple of Canada were so gen­er­ous and sup­port­ive, it was a won­der­ful ex­am­ple of hu­man­ity. It’s why the Amer­i­can peo­ple re­mem­ber the story,” he said.

Ufkes ex­plained that al­though he wasn’t di­rectly af­fected, he was touched by the com­pas­sion that Gan­derites showed for com­plete strangers through­out 9-11.

That, in it­self, mer­ited a trip. Dur­ing his meet­ing with the mayor, Ufkes shared a num­ber of gifts, in­clud­ing Amer­i­can wine, choco­lates and con­fec­tionary.

As a fi­nal to­ken of ap­pre­ci­a­tion, Ufkes, who’s a Scout­mas­ter, pre­sented El­liott with an hon­orary neck­er­chief.

For Ufkes, the pass­ing of the neck­er­chief was sym­bolic.

“Scout­ing, to me, rep­re­sents that we have way more in com­mon than we have dif­fer­ences,” he said.

Ufkes had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore Gan­der a bit and was moved by the gen­eros­ity of the towns­peo­ple.

“Ev­ery per­son I’ve talked to in Gan­der is proud for the right rea­sons,” he said.

Fur­ther­more, Ufkes noted that Amer­i­cans could learn from Gan­derites and Cana­di­ans in gen­eral.

“Their sense of who they are isn’t threat­ened by the dif­fer­ences that peo­ple have. I found Cana­di­ans to be non­judg­men­tal,” said Ufkes. “I can say I’ve never met a Cana­dian I don’t like.”

Ufkes isn’t shy about his af­fec­tion for Cana­di­ans; he’s plas­tered, in great red let­ters, a friendly note across the side of his car.

His mes­sage?

Seattle hearts Canada.

JOSH HEALEY/ THE BEA­CON

Mark Ufkes, from Seattle, WA, drove 7000 kilo­me­ters to meet Mayor Claude El­liott and thank him for Gan­der’s con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing 9-11.

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