Saturday, May 19, 2012

NHL Alumni Interview with Brad Marsh

Follow Brad's Cross-Canada Journey
on Twitter (@BradMarshNHL)
and at his 90 Day Challenge Blog
(Photo - Brad's Twitter Page)
At times, there is nothing more daunting than making important changes in our lives. Even though they are changes for the better, the idea of doing something that may take several years is intimidating for most of us. What if you could set more attainable goals for yourself, working towards a certain goal 90 days at a time? That is exactly what NHL Alumni Brad Marsh has done for the past two years and his current 90 Day Challenge has become a remarkable adventure that is not only changing his life, but changing the lives of others.

Brad and his son Erik are on an incredible journey - biking across Canada to raise much-needed funds and awareness for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. On April 25th in Vancouver, the courageous duo dipped their tires in the Pacific Ocean and set out on their adventure. For those of you that have travelled within Canada, you will know from your own experience that the country has a unique and challenging geography. There are the highs and lows of the world-famous Rocky Mountains (mostly highs), the ever-present headwinds of the Prairies and then the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield, before the final push into the Maritime Provinces. Nearing the halfway point of their trip, with the Rockies and Prairies behind them, Brad shared his thoughts on the ride, as well as the important role of the Boys and Girls Clubs in our communities.

“So far, it has all gone extremely well,” Brad said on the telephone from Brandon, Manitoba. “Just from an organizational standpoint, mapping out the route and all the work that you do leading up to something like this - it’s all gone very well. From a physical standpoint and being able to actually ride the kilometres that you have to ride to complete something like this has gone extremely well too. No problems and no meltdowns on the bike - I look forward to each day that I get on the bike and riding to a new community.”

“We all know from grade school and high school geography how unique Canada is, but it has been neat to be able to see the different parts of Canada. What is great about being in the different regions is meeting the people and staying in the smaller towns. They are the places that you would normally never see because when you are travelling, you usually go to the bigger cities or the bigger attractions. We have had a great time meeting all the different people.”

Currently working with nutrition company ViSalus, Brad explained that the 90 Day Challenge is part of their main message - the Body by Vi 90 Day Challenge, which helps people achieve their goal of a healthier lifestyle. It is something that he has incorporated into his own life to bring about positive changes and the concept of the 90 Day Challenge led to the idea of this bike ride and raising awareness for the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“People can get their head around 90 days if they set a goal to do something or achieve something,” he said. “Whether it is weight loss, better health or maybe getting ready for a 5K or 10K race, 90 days is something that is within reach. When they do reach their goal, they feel good about themselves and quite often set another 90 Day Challenge. I have been doing this for almost two years now and it has been fun.”

“My first 90 Day Challenge was to start to get my health back, lose weight and get in shape. Each time, I set a goal and achieved it, I kind of set the bar a little higher for the next one. With this one though, I obviously raised the bar quite a bit!”

With a history that dates back to the late 1800’s in the United States and the early 1900’s in Canada, people may not realize the importance of the Boys and Girls Clubs and the organization’s role in our communities. The Boys and Girls Clubs help young Canadians with after-school and out-of-school programs and their activities promote a healthy and active lifestyle. The dedicated staff and volunteers help participants learn the importance of positive relationships with their peers and family members, and provide positive role models to help them become the leaders of tomorrow.

“For whatever reason, the Boys and Girls Clubs fly under the radar of the other major charities and that surprised me when I first started asking about it,” Brad explained. “The Senators Alumni does a lot in Ottawa with them and you just assume that because you are involved with a specific club, that every one is the same or has the same support, but as I said, it flies under the radar. A lot of people don’t know that it exists in their town or do not know the good that they do, the importance of the club and how they help kids. So, that has become the focus of this ride, to raise awareness for the Boys and Girls Clubs.”

“Yes, we hope to raise some money, but we don’t have a set goal or a set amount in mind. The main thing is to raise awareness, so my goal when I arrive in each new town is to get on the local radio and television station, get in the local newspaper and talk about the club.”

During his NHL career, Brad played 1,086 games with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames, the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators. His never-quit attitude made him a fan-favourite in every city and his junior team, the London Knights, honoured him by retiring his number 22. As the president of the Ottawa Senators Alumni Association and an active member of the NHL Alumni Association, he generously gives his time to help others. Which is one of the reasons he did not hesitate to ride across Canada for the Boys and Girls Club as part of his current 90 Day Challenge - it is what he has always done.

“When you get into the hockey environment, the team environment, especially the era that we came through, it was very easy to be involved in the community because we were hockey players in Canada,” he recalled. “People and kids looked up to us, so it was a really natural thing for us to do. For myself, being traded a few times and playing in a few different communities, the easy thing to do was to get involved through the team. Upon their retirement, a lot of the NHL Alumni guys continued doing that charitable work in whatever community they retired in - it’s great to be involved and help others.”

With a stop in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Wednesday and then pushing on to Thunder Bay, Ontario and crossing the provincial border, I asked Brad to share his thoughts on the second half of the trip.

“Once we cross the border into Ontario, even though we have a heck of a lot of time left, I think it will be good for us because that’s my home province,” he said. “We’ll be riding hard to get to London, Ontario because that’s my hometown and there will be a sense of real achievement at that point because we’ll be near the halfway point and in friendly territory. It will be good to cross into Ontario.”

“Like I said, I look forward to the bike ride every day. We came from Regina into Bandon last weekend and it was just a beautiful day to ride. I felt good and just kept riding; by the end of the day, I had put in more than 280 kilometres. We were going to stop at the halfway point, just to break it up, but I felt so good we just kept going all the way to Brandon. I know some people here, so our goal was to arrive in time to catch some of the hockey game on Saturday night, which we did. We sat and had dinner and watched the hockey game, so it was a good day - a long day but well worth it!”

While a cross-Canada bike ride can be lonely at times, Brad is sharing the journey with his family and creating memories that will last a lifetime for everyone. As previously mentioned, his son Erik is with him, riding, writing for their blog and keeping everyone up to date with Twitter and Facebook posts. His wife Patty accompanied him at the start of the trip and will connect with Brad again when he reaches Kingston. Brad’s son Patrick lives in Calgary, training as an elite-level speed skater, so he joined in when they reached Revelstoke and took part in some of the mountain climbs. When his daughters, Tory and Madeline, finish up their college studies for year, they will take part too as he rides through Ontario. It is truly inspiring to see the entire Marsh family taking time to help make this journey possible.

Brad is the perfect embodiment of the NHL Alumni’s motto of being ‘Hockey’s Greatest Family’ - As he completes his cross-Canada ride and his 90 Day Challenge with his family’s support, he is helping numerous families across the country. Raising funds and raising awareness, taking the time to play hockey with the children at the local Boys and Girls Clubs after a long day of riding - being a positive role model for all of us. Yes, it is truly amazing what can be accomplished in 90 days.

You can follow Brad and Erik Marsh on their journey across Canada on Twitter (@BradMarshNHL) on Facebook ( and at their blog (

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