| Grace and Ish Naboulsi, right, with the help of longtime friend Craig Styles, raised $282,000 to thank the University Hospital for helping Grace with a heart ailment. PHOTO by Nick Lees|
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
(It's been fun, sharing my stories with Wayne Gretzky over the past few days. Here's the last instalment.)
|Wayne as coach|
I see Wayne the odd time now when he comes to Edmonton.
One of the most amazing things to me about Wayne is how he always encourages people to look to the future.
Whenever we had a chat at the morning skate of a game, he would end by saying: “You’re coming to the game tonight, right? I’ll see you after the game.”
And he would. It wouldn’t be for very long because he had a plane to catch. But right before he left the rink, he would always say “I’ll find you when we are in town next.”
And he always did. His time was so restricted he often did not have time for a quick hand shake and hello. But he always did that.
I’ll never forget in December of 2008 when the Phoenix Coyotees were in Edmonton to play the Edmonton Oilers. I was on the bottom of Rexall Place near the Phoenix dressing room and watched the team walk under the stands on to the ice. With his hands in his pocket, Wayne followed the team out and, minutes before the game, probably had a million thoughts. He saw me, stopped and shook my hand.
“Cam, how are you? Everything OK?” he asked. “It’s game time but God bless.”
In the winter of 2002, Kevin Lowe had me phone him before every hockey game Canada played at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. (Wayne and Kevin were part of the management team.) The night before Canada met the Americans in the gold medal game, I made my call. Kevin took it and said someone wanted to say hello.
One of Wayne’s special friends is Joe Moss, who has Downs Syndrome and can be difficult to understand at times.
Kevin handed Wayne his cell phone.
“Hi Gretz. How are you?” I asked when I recognized his voice.
“Joey!” Wayne exclaimed, thinking I was Moss. “How nice of you to call.”
And, he was serious.
“Sorry, Gretz. It’s Tait.”
There was a long pause at the end.
“Well, you’ve been drinking, haven’t you? Have one for me.”
|Wayne, Bill Comrie, Glen Sather and myself at the Northlands in 1999 in Edmonton|
PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS PARTS OF THE SERIES
I have lived with cerebral palsy all my life, use a wheelchair, and had the priceless support from my family and community around me as a young boy. That’s why the recent story of Brenda Millson and her grandson Max extremely disappoints me and has me very, very concerned. Max is 13 years old and has autism. Ms. Millson had an anonymous letter delivered to her in Newcastle, Ont. suggesting the family either leave the neighborhood or Max … well, you read the letter below.
This type of behavior is sad, on so many levels. It is also darn right scary for people with disabilities to have people who have such attitudes. Horrifying, in fact. And it lends itself to ask countless questions: what would cause someone to do this; do we need more public awareness campaigns, starting with government and the non-profit organizations representing disability, challenging and remember to include people with disabilities; do we need to provide better support systems to include people with disabilities in communities, creating even more understanding; do we take a deep look at ourselves and re-examine our own beliefs; do we …?
I feel terrible for Max and his family. In an ever-increasing population it is indeed a shame we, as a society, have not embraced one another more—despite our abilities and disabilities. I am hopeful, though, this is an isolated incident will create discussion and education. In the end, the community around Max will support him and give him everything he need to succeed. I have faith it people. I speak from experience.
CLICK HERE TO VOICE YOUR CONCERNS DIRECTLY TO TAIT
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