On January 25 in this column I wrote about a marvelous lady named
Gail Leroux. If you recall, she is the person who has lived her life in
pain since a dreadful car accident when she was only 16 years old. Gail
and her 80-year old friend, Gerty Burnett, were spending time at the
Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre every afternoon, trying to sell tickets to a
Valentine’s Day Dance to raise money for the March of Dimes.
All of a sudden, without notice, Gail stopped showing up at the
mall. I soon found out that Gail was told she would have to cancel the
dance because she was not having enough success at selling advance tickets
and with the dance being only two weeks away, the coordinator did not want
to take a chance on continued poor sales. Gail, I was told, felt terrible
for disappointing everyone by failing to accomplish her goal.
Several days later, I was speaking to a friend who said, “The
dance was a good idea, but it was just too much for one person to handle.
She was doomed to failure from the beginning.”
That comment reminded me about a story that has always been one of
One day two young brothers were in the backyard when their father
came home and saw them digging in a hole that was already waist deep. The
father came up to them and asked for an explanation.
The older son said excitedly, “We’re digging to the other side
of the earth. My teacher said that if we start digging a hole straight
down we will eventually come out on the other side of the earth.”
The father answered, “That is ridiculous. You could never dig
long enough to come out on the other side. It is impossible.”
The two young boys looked at each other, then they looked at their
father standing over them. The youngest one, reached over for a large
glass jar that was sitting beside the hole. The father could see that the
jar contained several shiny coloured rocks, some small metal and plastic
objects, and some live insects and worms. The boy then looked at his
father and said, “Well, even if we don’t ever get to the other side,
look at all of the great things we’re finding while we are trying to get
The father forced the boys to put the soil back inside the hole and
abandon their quest to dig to the other side of the earth. But instead of
feeling badly about this turn of events, the two brothers walked away with
their glass jar of treasures, feeling very satisfied and happy that they
had already accomplished so much for having tried in the first place.
My thoughts drifted back to Gail - one person, who decided against
overwhelming odds that she wanted to organize a Valentine’s Dance to
raise money for the March of Dimes. One person setting out to sell 200
tickets at $20 each. Almost an impossible task, but yet she still had the
courage and confidence to make the attempt.
I thought to myself, before we consider Gail a failure, let’s see
what her “glass jar contained” when she was forced to give up on her
idea for the dance:
This lady in a wheelchair had spent a full week sitting at a table
in the middle of the busiest section of the mall, smiling at everyone who
went by and telling them about her dance. In that time she had arranged to
receive commitments from about 70 people and she still had a couple of
weeks to go before the event.
This lady was one of the few people in the region who had a chance
to meet Ken Dryden, the Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender when he visited the
Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre. Dryden signed his autograph and best wishes
on the poster promoting the dance and took his picture with Gail.
This lady raised over $300 selling tickets to raffle off some
prizes donated by a few of the merchants and a hand-crocheted blanket that
she herself had made. The winner was Ron Jones.
This lady was seen by hundreds of young people in the mall who now
realize that being physically challenged does not prevent you from getting
involved in worthwhile projects and activities.
And perhaps most importantly of all, this lady’s story was
delivered by The Vision Paper in this column, to 10,000 homes in
Capreol and to countless others over the internet. Today, thousands of
people have a whole new outlook on life simply because they read the story
about Gail’s courage. They now feel that if a person like Gail can
maintain her extremely positive attitude despite the trials and challenges
she has faced during her lifetime, then so too can they.
When they see Gail at church, at the mall, or just around town,
they no longer see a lady in a wheelchair – they see hope, and courage
and a person who is not afraid to start “digging to the other side of
the earth” even if it seems like an impossible task. Thousands of people
have been inspired and personally motivated because of this one lady.
I looked closely at my friend and said. “Gail did not fail. She
may have originally set out to hold a dance, but in the meantime she
accomplished so much more than she could have ever imagined. Think of how
much this community would have lost if Gail had chosen to sit at home in
her wheelchair and done nothing. That would have been a tragic failure for
the thousands of people who are now living a better life because of one
person’s efforts to do what seemed like an impossible task. No, my
friend, Gail did not fail. Gail accomplished an awful lot because of her
So the next time you have a goal that may seem impossible, think
about Gail. Think about the young boys setting out to dig to the other
side of the earth. As long as you are working towards your goal you are
going to discover many wonderful treasures along the way. Enjoy those
treasures, because that is what this is all about.
Have a good week!