Above Image: Military members, veterans, first responders, Trenton mayor Jim Harrison and Grade 7 students from Napanee Prince Charles Elementary School and Kingston Archbishop O’Sullivan Elementary School were some of the people that volunteered this year.
The 2020 Highway of Heroes Fall Clean was completed last weekend.
Corporal Nick Kerr, Master Corporal (ret’d) Collin Fitzgerald, and Kerri Tadeu started the Highway of Heroes Clean-Up in 2016.
“We pick up garbage on the on and off-ramps from Trenton to Keele Street in Toronto, known as the Highway of Heroes (HoH),” Kerri Tadeu explained.
The clean up happens every spring for the entire month of April, and every fall for the entire month of October. Tadeu says they started early this month secondary to not being able to clean the whole 172 km east and 172 km west of the HoH in April. Tadeu runs all the initiatives on and off the HoH.
The Highway of Heroes Clean-Up was started to create a legacy in memory of Major Michelle Knight Mendes to combat the epidemic of suicide among military members, veterans, and first responders.
Tadeu explained, “The purpose of this initiative is to bring Military members, veterans, First Responders, families of the fallen and the civilians who care about them together on a sacred stretch of Canadian soil and remember all that gave some and some that gave all for our freedom.”
She said that an initiative like this is important to show there are people committed to affecting positive change in the veteran community.
This year they started the clean on September 7 with three mothers of fallen soldiers in various regions on the Highway of Heroes. The group cleaned Keele Street in Toronto with Nancy Siew. Her son was Captain Cletus Cheng.
Later the group cleaned Toronto Road in Port Hope with Silver Cross mother, Anna Loveman, remembering her son Craftsman, Kyle Sinclair. They finished the clean in Grafton with Silver Cross mother Dianne Knight honouring Major Michelle Knight Mendes.
Tadeu mentioned with COVID-19, they have been picking up gloves and masks, which they have never done before.
“Sadly, we cleaned Toronto Road September 7, and we returned there 17 days later and cleaned again because of the amount of garbage that was tossed there,” Tadeu continued.
Trenton OPP Constable Whitby, Cobourg Police, Port Hope Police, and Toronto Police Office Andrew Bryan were a great support. Their efforts were remarkable as we moved through their areas, says Tadeu.
“We had Canadian Armed Forces Military members, veterans, first responders, families of the fallen and people who care about them picking up garbage on the on and off-ramps from Glen Miller Road in Trenton to Keele Street in Toronto. There was a massive amount of masks and gloves, and as per usual, Tim Horton’s cups,” Tadeu added.
For the first time in four years, the team had Grade 7 students clean the Highway of Heroes.
“Mayor Harrison greeted them with Quinte West swag and doughnuts and, of course, a big thank you,” Tadeu commented.
Also, for the first time, the Royal Canadian Legion, District E, organized a large group of volunteers who travelled three hours to clean with the team in the Durham region.