Written by Michael Blow, aka Smokey, 1 CAV Paardeberg, Ottawa.
This story actually began in January 2009, a special little girl whose name was Dakota Lee Allen went to the repatriation for Trooper Brian Good in Toronto. Dakota insisted on going to pay her respects and consequently went to the Coroners office on Grenville Street in Toronto. You may say what is so special about this, a lot of people went to do the same thing, well the difference was that Dakota was scheduled to be operated on to repair a hole in the upper part of her heart, two days later on January 12th. Rather than think of herself she thought about the returning Trooper and paying her respects to this fallen hero.
Above: Dakota Lee
While at the repatriation Dakota had the chance to meet some members of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit (CAV), including Trapper, the National President and Slider, a CAV member from Niagara Falls. Dakota was very impressed to have met them all. A year prior to finding out that Dakota had a heart condition she had met a soldier at a local Tim Horton Donuts and she gave him a hug and a kiss and thanked him for fighting for our country, in return this soldier gave Dakota the Canadian Flag shoulder sash from his uniform. From that day that Dakota met the soldier in Tim Hortons, she has taken a huge interest in the military.
Smokey, the National CAV Webmaster, read a post on the CAV forum about what Dakota had done, and decided that it needed some special recognition in order to acknowledge the ongoing contribution this little girl is making to the military members. He approached his unit, Paardeberg, and recommended that Dakota be made an honorary member of the Paardeberg Unit and CAV. This was approved and Smokey contacted Mark Allen to make arrangements to make a presentation to Dakota of a plaque and some other items that were representative of the CAV organization.
Above: Smokey with Dakota Lee
The first official 2009 ride for Paardeberg, called the Dakota Lee Allen ride, took place on April 18th under cloudy skies and not too warm temperatures down to Prescott to make this important presentation. Other Units, including members of the National Executive also participated and met the riders from Paardeberg at the Tim Hortons in Prescott prior to all the riders proceeding en masse to the presentation site, on the main street in Prescott. It is estimated that 40 motorcycles were there, and the roar of engines that filled the main street certainly took Dakota by surprise.
While in Prescott, we did the presentation of the plaque and gave Dakota numerous mementos and other items that were affiliated with the CAV, we also managed to sign a Canadian Flag that Dakota will send to Afghanistan to show the troops that, yes, we do care. All this from a small 5 year old girl that shows more strength and honor than a lot of adults.
A future CAV rider?
A group picture was taken and then the group had some lunch at Picollo's restaurant in Prescott, the owners were happy to provide us the use of their restaurant for the group and the owner’s wife even baked some pastries for all to enjoy. Various toys were also given to Dakota and her young brothers in order for them not to be left out.
Radar, Paardeberg Unit Sergeant At Arms, had brought an extra helmet along and took Dakota for a spin around the block on his Honda Trike, in fact she went around twice, Smokey had promised her a ride and she was really looking forward to it. Radar still has the finger marks in his vest as she was holding on pretty tight.
The different groups departed shortly after 1pm just as it started to rain a bit, but the joy of the day wasn't disturbed at all by the little bit of rain that happened to fall.
On a personal note I look forward to seeing Dakota again at the CAV motorcycle show in Kingston, I know she will be there on the Sunday for anyone that wishes to meet this remarkable little girl. I also know that she will continue to attend as many repatriations in Trenton as possible. My motorcycle helmet goes off in salute to Dakota Lee Allen and the day in Prescott was one I will never forget.