Editorials by Robert Kirwan

There Is No Such Thing As Failure As Long As You Have The Courage To Try… 
   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 my favourites.

   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 there.”

   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 Valley East and 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 courage.”

   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!


Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved
Valley East Today is published by
Infocom Canada Business Consultants Inc.