Fulfilling Dreams in Fergus

The second last stop on this amazing cross Canada legacy was in the town of Fergus, Ontario headquarters of the Portraits of Honour and home of National Project Manager Bruce Lloyd.

Following a brief Remembrance ceremony the mural was unveiled. Despite the chilly temperatures the townspeople and school children took the time to view, stop and remember the lifelike images of the 157 of 158 fallen soldiers, sailors and aircrew that died in Afghanistan.

In the evening a fund raising gala was staged at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 275. Among the speakers were the Mayor of Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj, Kin Canada National President Dave Ronson, Silver Cross Mother Bev McCaw and Artist Dave Sopha.

Entertainment following a delicious farmer’s meal was provided by singer/songwriter and motivational speaker Terry Kelly. Terry has been blind since birth and overcame this obstacle to become an accomplished paralympic athlete and a consummate entertainer.

His message through music and dialogue is the “Power of the Dream.” He says anyone can dream and fulfill their lifelong goals. Along the way there maybe obstacles which he calls “dream adjustments.” He gives the example of an OPP officer who was shot in the face in the line of duty causing blindness. People told him he would never work again in law enforcement. Taking this as a challenge he studied criminology. Today that officer still loves his job in uniform teaching criminology.

That analogy happens with our troops coming home from Afghanistan. After healing, the wounded who have returned home with physical injuries such as losing a limb or an eye can return to duty in another capacity contributing in a non battle position but still live the dream of being involved with the armed forces. The ability to overcome a disability and celebrate it with enthusiasm makes you a stronger, healthier person.

Terry also spoke about living on a farm on weekends while attending the School for the Blind in Halifax, Nova Scotia when he was seven. Ten students were taken in by a farmer, his wife and their eight children. The farmer spoke to them about the five laws of the farm. One of these is planting the seeds. Each spring the fields are sowed with the season’s crops and harvested in the fall. In life we do the same. We can plant the seeds of positive thinking or negativity that the world around us throws at us on a daily basis.

Our involvement in Afghanistan since 2001 has been slowly planting the seed of self sufficiency
to a civilization that has been stagnant and deprived of nurturing by an enemy who wears no uniform. The fallen men and women featured on the mural in their own way sowed a seed in that war torn nation in hopes of making a difference. We here at home can reap these rewards by observing Canada Day and Remembrance Day everyday. They did not die in vain for their efforts.

The highlight of the night was the surprise presentation of the Hal Rogers Fellow Award to Terry Kelly by Diane Rogers, daughter of Kin Canada founder Hal Rogers. HRF recognizes individual Kin, alumni and non-Kin who by their leadership accomplishments and community endeavours, have demonstrated high ideals to which Founder Hal was committed. Terry is a staunch supporter of our military and has performed for our troops in Khandahar.

This special man who has touched so many lives with his music and inspiration joins POH artist Dave Sopha, Celine Dion, Wayne Gretzky, Major-General (ret’d) Lewis MacKenzie, and General (ret’d) Rick Hillier as recipients of the highest award to be given by Kin Canada in 2011.

Congratulations and well deserved.