Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay, Part 4

So, after we took a group photo at the End of Day Celebration at Burnaby Village Museum, Rick half turned in his chair and spoke to me. He put his hand out and thanked me again for being a part of the relay and for the work that I do. I was glad I had my sunglasses clips on because behind them, my eyes were full of tears. I leaned down and thanked him for including me in the relay and then, I realized I had something else to thank him for. 

I took a deep breath so I could get the words out and thanked him for the nomination by his foundation for the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. I explained to him that it would be an honour under any circumstances to be nominated, but having that nomination come from his foundation was doubly meaningful to me. I told him I hadn't heard anything since the initial email in early February informing me my name had been put forward and he crossed his fingers and said "Fingers crossed that you get it!"

WOW! I was kind of reeling from our exchange, so I stepped back and a fellow Difference Maker came up to him and asked to get a photo with him. A light bulb went off in my head: when was I ever going to get this chance again? So after she was done, I politely asked him if it would be okay for me to get a photo with him as well and he said yes, almost before I could finish asking. I handed my camera to a Difference Maker standing nearby and Rick reached out to put his arm around my shoulder, so I crouched down and put my arm around him.

 I am so glad I have this photo. It means everything to me.

It's a funny thing when you admire someone so much and then the moment comes and you finally get to meet them. You always wonder if they are going to be who you think they are, or if you're going to be disappointed-people tend to build famous people up in their minds and they almost never turn out to be who you thought they were. I can honestly say that with Rick Hansen, what you see is what you get. He exudes kindness. When he shakes your hand, he looks you square in the eye and you know that he is 100% present in that moment. He really sees you. He is humble and genuine.

I don't have many personal heroes and the ones I do have I admire because they are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their lives. They people of great kindness and compassion, people who have shown great courage in the face of soul crushing adversity and who have used their lives to better the human condition. They are people of substance whose living examples have guided and informed my own life. Rick Hansen lives at the top of that list.

And speaking of lists, I can officially cross another very big thing
off my life's to-do list now:

-Meet Rick Hansen


Tara Finlay said...

Totally crying right now. So proud. xoxo

MB Shaw said...

Love this!!!
And a great picture too :)

g. said...

L! so happy for you! proud of you too. and love that you have this moment captured forever in a photo. truly awesome! xo

michelle allen said...

what an awesome story Lelainia! i'm so happy for you and this cherished experience. and great pic too! so proud of you and the way you are living life. an inspiration and an example to all of us. xo-m