He has represented his country on the ice, and now he’s biking across his country – through rain, snow, and whatever terrain comes his way.
Team Canada alumnus Brad Marsh is on a mission. Not only to successfully complete his current 90-Day Challenge, a physically and mentally demanding coast to coast bicycle trek, but also to raise both awareness and funds for the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, a charity that creates safe, supportive environments for children so they can build positive experiences, relationships and life skills.
Marsh, whose own philosophy is to, “work hard, do your best, have fun,” has long had a soft spot for the Boys and Girls Club.
“We do a lot with the Boys and Girls Club in Ottawa, and so I was just talking to the people that run the show there, and they were telling me how much it flies under the radar,” Marsh, current president of the Ottawa Senators Alumni Association, said May 7, while taking a bicycling break in Edmonton, Alta. “So I said, ‘Well, let’s do something to change that.’ ”
Marsh, who capped off a 15-year NHL career in the nation’s capital, and his fellow Sens alumni, became regular supporters of the Boys and Girls following the death of former professional hockey player and local sports broadcaster Brian Smith, who was randomly gunned down outside the television studio where he worked on . Brian “Smitty” Smith had attended the Boys and Girls Club as a youngster, and volunteered there in his later years.
“So it was easy to get involved,” Marsh said. “It’s just grown and blossomed from there.”
His incredible cycle across the country started April 25 in Vancouver, B.C., and will continue until he reaches St. John’s, Nfld., in July. The 10,000-km journey includes stops in several major Canadian cities, where he’s visiting kids at the Boys and Girls Club, and even picking up a stick to play a little floor hockey with the star-struck youngsters. He is accompanied by son Erik, one of four children with wife Patty.
“It’s a lot of freakin’ kilometres,” he said with a chuckle of the difficult trip, acknowledging many are likely wondering, “What the heck is Brad Marsh doing!?”
But as he battles his way from mountains to lighthouses, Marsh is confident he’ll succeed in his eighth straight 90-Day Challenge. That’s because before he chose to challenge himself on behalf of his favourite charity, Marsh faced an uphill battle of challenging himself, and made it back up to the top.
“When I started my first 90-Day Challenge, I was physically, financially and mentally bankrupt,” Marsh says on an online video, calling it “the beginning of the end,” for him. He decided to re-start.
“My first 90-day Challenge was in June of 2010, and it was more or less to lose weight,” he told Hockey Canada. “Every 90-Day Challenge, I up the ante … so here I am doing a monumental 90-Day Challenge.”
Now, Marsh promotes 90-Day Challenges of all sorts, whether he’s doing it for himself or helping others reach their own personal goals.
“If you’re in my position, get off the couch and do something about it,” Marsh, who won a silver medal at the 1977 IIHF World Junior Championship, a bronze medal at the 1978 IIHF World Junior Championship and also wore the red and white at the 1979 IIHF World Championship, advises fellow Team Canada alumni.
“And if you don’t have a charity of your choice, then by all means, please look at the Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “The kids would love to … play a game of floor hockey against you.”
“Perhaps, in the future, people will consider donating to the Boys and Girls Club,” Marsh said. “Or more importantly, getting involved in the mentorship role, and in helping out through volunteering.”