Photo from @KecingCanada Facebook page.

Trail Mounties guide horseback riders through town

Keca sisters riding across Canada for Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides

Aside from keeping law and order, Trail RCMP officers recently became protectors to a pair of horseback riders.

Sisters Katie and Jewel Keca of Grimsby ON, were riding their horses through downtown Trail one night earlier this month as part of a cross-country journey to raise money for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.

Constables Mike Flewelling, Steve Murchie, and Ben Smith of the Trail and Greater District Detachment RCMP gave a little extra assistance to the Kecas that evening of Aug. 4.

Sgt. Mike Wicentowich was away from his desk these past two weeks, but he shared the story in a Tuesday news brief.

”The two sisters were riding horseback through downtown Trail around 8:45 p.m. when it started to become dark,” he said. “Constable Flewelling happened to be in the area and spoke to the two young ladies about their dilemma. They were planning on travelling up Rossland Avenue to Warfield before ending their journey for the night. They did not anticipate riding in the dark.”

Constable Flewelling noted obvious concern for the safety of the sisters and their horses and he, Constable Murchie, and Constable Smith arranged to provide them with an police escort up Rossland Avenue so they would safely reach their destination.

“The Trail and Greater District Detachment would like to publicly recognize the efforts of these three police officers and wish the Keca sisters a safe and prosperous journey ending in White Rock,” Wicentowich said. “Though the RCMP does not endorse any one particular charity or fundraising event, you can obtain more information about the sisters and their efforts at kecingcanada.com.”

The sisters also write updates on their Facebook page @KecingCanada. On Day 92, which started in the Beaver Valley and ended in Warfield, they wrote about their exhaustive ride through this area.

“We stopped in Fruitvale for a long lunch break to wait out the heat, then continued on through Montrose and in to Trail,” the Kecas posted. “We turned a tight, rock face bend and were hit with a stunning view. Perks of having a slow horse is I get to enjoy the view longer! The ride through downtown took longer then expected, and the sun went down quick,” they wrote.

“A policeman stopped to question us and after explaining what we were doing and where we were going, he got some other police to escort us to our camp for the night. And thank goodness they did. The last 2 km was up a steep, winding hill with no street lamps. We finally got in to camp after 9 p.m., exhausted but still revelling in the beautiful humans and scenery.”

Jewel and Katie started out from Nova Scotia in 2017 as a duo with just their horses and saddle bags. They made it as far as the western edge of Ontario, more than 2,500 kilometres, before they had to pack it in for the season. They learned from their tired horses and brought their brother into the team, unburdening Ora and Phoenix from the dozens of kilograms of gear – their pace has improved this time, since leaving Kenora, Ont. in early May.

As far as the sisters’ cause, the Lions guide dog program is uniquely Canadian, with roots dating back almost 40 years.

In the early 1980’s Lions Clubs across Canada sought to develop a national project to reflect their service to Canadians with visual impairments. The result was Lions Foundation of Canada and its founding program, Canine Vision Canada, which was established in 1985.

Since then the foundation has grown to include additional Dog Guide programs for Hearing, Service, Seizure Response, Autism Assistance, Diabetic Alert and newly introduced, Support Dog Guides.

Lions Foundation of Canada’s mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them Dog Guides at no cost.

To do this, the foundation operates Dog Guides Canada, a preeminent national training school and charity that assists individuals with disabilities through specialized Dog Guide programs.

These Dog Guides are provided at no cost to eligible Canadians from coast to coast despite costing $25,000 to train and place. The foundation relies on donations from individuals, service clubs, foundations and corporations and does not receive any government funding.

Now the largest school of its kind in Canada, Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides is located in Oakville, Ont., and has a breeding and training facility in Breslau, ON.

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