Never Give Up!

I spent last week in Miami at my company’s annual customer conference and sales kick-off. While I had hoped it would be something of a respite from the challenges of the past five months, Tracy was never really far from my thoughts — especially after listening to the inspirational words of Nando Parrado our keynote speaker.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the story. In October 1972 a rugby team from Uruguay was flying to Chile for an international match. Their plane crashed high in the Andes Mountains and the survivors endured 72 unmanageable days of hardship, starvation, frostbite and even an avalanche.

Nando told us about how those two and a half months changed his life completely. His mother and younger sister passed away in the accident, and Nando made a superhuman effort to survive including a hellish 11 day mountain trek across the Andes to find help for the other survivors.

Nando told his amazing story in a best-selling book called “Miracle in The Andes” which was recently made into motion picture called “I AM ALIVE.” His story really resonated with me. It’s a message about perseverance, choices and never looking back. He told us to “never ask why,” because there are no answers, and it’s not helpful. Our family continues to try and be strong for Tracy, but there are days when our “humanness” overcomes and our emotions take over – anger, sadness, despair and more recently exhaustion.

Nando signed books after his talk and I was eager to get a copy for Tracy. We were asked to write the name of the person we wanted the book inscribed to on a little yellow post it note. I wrote Tracy’s name and when I reached Nando he smiled, looked up at me and asked “who is Tracy?” He could clearly see my conference name badge – Lesley Dort. I was overcome with emotion in that instant and sobbed as I retold Tracy’s story. He leaned over and very gently held my hand. We talked about Tracy and her will to live. It felt to me like we were the only two people in that room, even though there was a huge long line of people waiting behind me.

His inscription to Tracy was “Never Give Up.”

Nando’s story is inspirational and the message of resilience and a positive attitude gives me hope. If he could survive two and a half months in the Andes and live to tell his story, we can help Tracy to transition to her new life as a quadriplegic.

My husband and I continue to believe that she has a calling. Her story, just like Nando’s, will inspire others to be better and do better in their own lives.

  • Cindy Scott


    A very touching story… I only met Tracy briefly, but I have no doubt she will continue to inspire others. I spoke with her for 5 minutes and I was inspired.


  • nancy johnston

    I wrote about Tracy and how she inspired me this week in my blog. I hope in a way that is good and meaningful.
    She now has the power to be the person I, who have never met her before, can think of when I get up. I can allow myself to be inspired by her courage and strength. This is an amazing by-product of a tragedy.
    I hope my post brings continued compassion, donation and prayer to her and her family.
    heartfelt thoughts to all of you- Nancy

  • Roger Gervais

    I think I may have heard of Tracy at Bethel’s singing Christmas tree. I work in Ottawa assisting adults with physical and developmental disabilities (since 1994) and also volunteer to do presentations on residential accessibility. I’m wondering if there is some help I can offer to Tracy. I’m willing to share all information I have if you would like it. Don’t hesitate to email.

  • Lyle Goodis

    Hi Leslie: Just read your latest post – terrific! And I just went out and read Nando’s book this past week. Absoutley not to be believed!! It really puts so much of our everyday crazy silly lives in perspective. Hope you are well and that Tracy is feeling stronger! Still thinking of her all the time and please tell her that we all are trying to channel our hopes, love and strength through to her always!! Lyle

  • Laura Enns

    Hi Lesley, Tracy and the entire host of Dort Heros,

    It has been a while since I heard of Tracy’s plight. I read your blogs and keep meaning to write something, but I never know what to say or even where to begin -but the words “never give up” also reminded me to “always face up” -no excuses or fear, just do what you need to do.

    Since I knew Tracy mostly as a young girl -and a few visits to Napean over the years, oh and one silly evening when before Silver Lake one year, but even as young as she was then, she was older than her years, knew what she wanted and went for it -and usually succeeded while making it look easy. There is no “easy” about any of this, physically or emotionally, but I pray that determination still resides inside and is never extinguished.

    Throughout the years I’d hear snippits of Tracy’s life and think “she’s got it made.” Times change and it seems our families lost touch with one another and I’m certain had this not happened, I would not have ever tried to reach you -not even on f/b!

    So maybe what I’m trying to say is, Tracy has a calling. It is to bring everyone who knows her closer together. Not just to your family, but for all who know her. When my mum said Tracy was hurt, she was really upset. Lisa and I made sure we made extra calls, but it also reminded us how much we love one another. We are all any of really has, and despite our differences -and there are many, we are there for each other.

    Of course being on the front lines, a little respite from the worry and frustration and I’m sure anger, would be welcome. But we know this is a long battle, there is no end in site, and each day brings another challenge when all we need is a break. Daunting.

    I suppose I just want you all to know I am being inspired each time I visit your blog, by your entire family, an amazing group who embody an enormous amount of love and therby inspiring many I’m sure you don’t even know you have touched.

    I keep all of you in my thoughts. I will keep in touch and if I find myself living back in Ontario -I will be sure to help Tracy whatever way I can.

    Big Hugs!
    Laura Enns

  • Heather McCaskill

    This is a very strong and moving message that brought tears to my eyes- as i am sure to many others. You too have a calling, to share and inspire others to stay strong and “never give up”. Thank you for keeping Tracey’s story in our thoughts through your updates. we all have a great deal to learn as we move along through this life.