Clean­ing up the High­way of Heroes

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - ONTARIO NEWS - PETE FISHER

A group of vol­un­teers has hon­oured their com­mit­ment to keep­ing the High­way of Heroes clean.

They’re called Ser­ViCe — with re­tired Master Cpl. Collin Fitzger­ald and Kerri Tadeu from Kingston among the vol­un­teers. The group also in­cludes emer­gency ser­vices, and Silver Cross fa­ther and moth­ers who joined in for the fall clean — Oct. 23 to Nov. 2 — of both east and west­bound lanes of Hwy. 401, stretch­ing from Tren­ton to Toronto.

The cap­i­tal let­ters in the group Ser­ViCe stand for: Soldier, vet­eran and civil­ian.

This stretch of high­way was of­fi­cially re­named the High­way of Heroes in 2007, af­ter an out­pour­ing of sup­port came from res­i­dents, po­lice of­fi­cers and fire­fight­ers who gath­ered on over­passes to salute and wave flags for fallen sol­diers killed in Afghanistan af­ter they were repa­tri­ated to CFB Tren­ton and mo­tor­cades car­ry­ing their bod­ies made their way to the coroner’s of­fice in Toronto.

Tadeu was a good friend of Maj. Michelle Knight-Men­des, who was car­ried home from Afghanistan in 2009. Since then, she has com­mit­ted her­self to ef­fect­ing change and cre­at­ing a legacy in mem­ory of her friend.

“When Maj. Michelle Knight Men­des was car­ried home from Afghanistan, I was ed­u­cated about the cost of war,” said Tadeu. “It’s one thing not to know about the ser­vice and sac­ri­fices of our Cana­dian Forces, but it’s an­other thing not to want to know. When I know bet­ter, I do bet­ter.”

Cpl. Nick Kerr, re­tired Master Cpl. Fitzger­ald and Tadeu adopted 1.18 kms of the High­way of Heroes last year be­fore Re­mem­brance Day at Grafton, near the home­town of her friend.

The trio worked with the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion and adopted the en­tire sec­tion of the High­way of Heroes from Tren­ton to Toronto un­der the Adopt-A-High­way Pro­gram — a to­tal of 344 kilo­me­ters in both di­rec­tions.

In April, Kerr, Fitzger­ald and T ad eu spent 21 days get­ting up each morn­ing at 4 a.m. from their home base in Kingston and trav­elled to clean des­ig­natedar­eas at each on and off-ramp along the High­way of Heroes.

At the end of their jour­ney, they had col­lected 389 bags of garbage, 44 nee­dles, vials ap­pear­ing to be heroin, nu­mer­ous pop­pies and Cana­dian flags, close to $235 in cash, bags of jew­elry, seven li­cence plates, at least 700 bot­tles of urine, three driver’s licenses, four health cards and one 9 mm hand­gun that was turned over to the On­tario Provin­cial Po­lice.

A to­tal of 260 bags of garbage was col­lected this time and $158 was do­nated to Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing from the empty al­co­hol con­tain­ers col­lected.

The to­tal ex­penses both Tadeu and Fitzger­ald have spent of their own money is just shy of $5,000 for their work on the High­way of Heroes this year, but both are com­mit­ted to hon­our­ing the ser­vice and sac­ri­fices of the fallen and af­fect­ing change.

PETE FISHER/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Mem­bers of the Toronto Po­lice Ser­vice em­bark on their quest to clean up the High­way of Heroes in Toronto. Over the course of 11 days the High­way of Heroes from Tren­ton to Toronto was cleaned up by vol­un­teers. Vol­un­teers made up of veter­ans, civil­ians, sol­diers, po­lice of­fi­cers, and the par­ents of fallen sol­diers vol­un­teered their time to clean up the ramps along High­way 401.

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