HomeThe support behind the emotion

The support behind the emotion

Nov 27 2009

Emotions too deep for words. That’s what I’ve been feeling this week, an overwhelming sense of home, community, and support.
I’m writing this from home in Prince Edward Island. No, it’s not a vacation. We were sent home for a few days while our sleds were being shipped to Europe for the next batch of races. The first two races were in North America, and I pushed Kaillie Humphries for both. In the first race in Park City, Utah, we placed sixth (podium finish) but we shattered the start record with a push of 5.20 seconds (the previous record being 5.25 seconds). The second race was in Lake Placid, NY this past Saturday. Kaillie and I tied the start record and finished with a bronze medal.

As soon as the medals were awarded and our sled was delivered safely to our garage, I rushed to strip out of my speedsuit and grabbed my luggage to drive to Montreal with my parents to catch our flight to PEI.

Why the big rush?

On Sunday - the day following our race - I felt honoured to carry the Olympic flame for a leg of the Torch Relay. It meant even more because I was chosen by my city to be the one to run onto the stage during the celebration and light the cauldron in front of my hometown.

But I was not prepared for the crowd of people through which I had to run. I was not prepared for both the familiar and unfamiliar faces in the crowd, screaming and cheering for me and the flame as we passed by. I was not prepared for the overwhelming sense of pride for the province and city in which I grew my roots and my wings, just before lighting the cauldron on behalf of my people. I was not prepared for the lump in my throat that quickly formed when trying to answer the host’s question about how I was feeling at that moment!

But that’s not all. Financial assistance is often a primary challenge for Canadian amateur athletes. Last spring, I decided I would throw a fundraiser dinner in PEI this fall to help raise a bit of money for living and training expenses. Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Bruce Rainnie – the anchor for CBC News Compass in PEI – and asked if he would host the dinner for me. A few weeks later, he told me that because part of the proceeds were going to a charity/cause, CBC would take over the planning of the whole event.

Although I helped get items for the silent and live auctions, I really had no idea how amazing this event was becoming until I was actually there on Tuesday. Bruce was a great host, keeping everything light and funny while Boomer Gallant was a hilarious auctioneer. The brilliant CBC Olympic commentator, Scott Russell, flew in from Edinburgh to be the main speaker of the evening. His passion for the Olympic Games was inspiring and his sense of community and the importance of family/home to success really resonated with me. His emotion brought me (and most of the room) to tears.

Multiple ECMA award-winning singer/songwriter, Lennie Gallant, entertained everyone later in the evening. I had the pleasure and good fortune of meeting him a couple of summers ago at a charity golf tournament. He’s as amazing a person as he is talented, and I feel honoured that he rearranged his schedule to take part in this dinner for me.

So, I really want to thank a number of people for their heart-warming generosity. I would like to thank CBC, Holland College, McDonald’s and Delta Prince Edward for making this evening possibly. A special thanks to my family and to those from APM who were able to attend. APM has come on board as my primary personal sponsor for this important World Cup season, and it was great to have some people from the company to represent. Their assistance is greatly appreciated!

But I really need to thank everyone who attended the dinner for making it the success that it was. It was a very emotional night for me as I was overwhelmed by the turnout and the things that were said and done, specifically to help me on my Olympic journey. I have attended a number of fundraising events before, but the night before my dinner it suddenly occurred to me that everyone would be there for me – to help me! And I was overcome with emotion before the day of the dinner even arrived. Throughout the dinner I almost cried about five times, and only really cried once. Had I tried to finish my sentence at the end of the evening about how I was feeling, that would have changed my crying tally to two.

There really are no words to describe the feeling of representing home, especially in front of home. I guess that’s what the 2010 Olympics will be like. If I am awarded the honour of representing my country in front of my country, I expect that that, too, will be an emotional and indescribable event.

But although emotions will be with me throughout this entire season and, hopefully, into the Games, it is the support behind the emotion, the passion and the focus – not the emotion itself – that will get me there and get me through it. So, I thank you for your support. From the bottom of my heart. Because this journey would not be the same without you!

Media Contact: MediaReleases@apm.ca