A cycling group called ‘Team Tracy’ is being created to participate in The Centurion 50 mile ride in Collingwood on September 16, 2012. It is wide open for anyone to join…and all levels of riders are welcome. Tracy’s friends Debbie Gray and Jeff Chalmers have graciously offered to help put the wheels in motion.
Tracy loved to ride and it was during her training for The Centurion that she had her accident. It is Tracy’s wish for people to come together to ride in this event to share the experience she had worked so hard to prepare for. To help you get ready, we will be organizing regular mid-week training/recreational rides, affiliating Team Tracy with a local bike shop for support and service, and raising funds for Tracy’s Trust through the design and sale of an amazing Team Tracy Cycling jersey.
To make The Team Tracy Cycling Group a reality we are looking for a few volunteers to fill these positions:
Corporate donation liaison
Bike shop liaison for coordinating group rides, etc.
Communications person for a Team Tracy Cycling Group website/blog
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.
Tracy turned 42 last Saturday. It was obviously a very melancholy day for our family. Here’s an email that Tracy’s friend Tammy Comish sent me about a party her wonderful girlfriends organized for her at Lyndhurst Hospital. I loved her note and thought we’d share it with you.
[box] Hi Lesley, I wanted to share with you, my thoughts on Tracy’s birthday! As I was driving to attend Tracy’s birthday party on Friday night, I found myself flashing back to a year ago, when I was attending Tracy 40th birthday (for the 2nd time, lol!)
What a difference a year makes.
Last year we celebrated with a yoga class, snowshoeing, a trip to the Spa and dinner. Then the following night a big party at Shirlee’s!
This year was so different, but so much more meaningful.
I was so happy to be among 10 incredible, caring women who have shown what a true friend will do when things get tough! These friendships are a testimony to what an incredible person your sister Tracy is!
I continue to be thankful for your incredible family and all these “true friends” for carrying and loving Tracy — the same way she would if it were one of us that was hurt.
I am still not convinced there is a reason that this accident happened. But on days like Tracy’s birthday it makes me thankful for Family and Friends.
As I watch the programs on TV and listen to people talk about their New Year’s resolutions, I wonder about them. Isn’t a resolution really more like a wish? We wish to be skinnier. We wish to get in better shape. We wish to be a nicer person. We wish to be tidier and if we’re lucky, we change our behaviour to actually make the “resolutions” come true.
My resolution and my wish is for continued courage, hope, resilience, tenacity, determination and drive for my sister. My resolution is to never take anything for granted and to always be grateful – for everything!
Some of you have asked about the number of visits we’ve had to Tracy’s website. We launched the site in early October and as of December 31, 2011, we’ve had over 160,000 visits. Robert says that pretty good.
We’re searching for a Nanny/Caregiver for Tracy’s boys to move in and work alongside Lynn and/or Mom. This person will ultimately live with Tracy and the boys when Lynn returns to St. Louis and Mom heads back to Ottawa.
Requirements for this full time live-in Caregiver/Nanny/Housekeeper: drivers license (car will be provided), duties will include – managing all aspects of care for the boys: meals, homework, school, appointments, laundry, activities, social outtings, clothes, driving to/from school or activities, etc. Must be a self starter with lots of energy, patience and compassion. Must clear a police background check. If you know of anyone please have them send me an email at Lesley [dot] Dort [at] rogers.com
TRACY’S TRUST FUND :: BOARD OF DIRECTORS
We’ve decided to assemble an informal board of directors to provide some oversight of Tracy’s Trust Fund and the money you’ve generously helped us raise. While the Fund is still relatively small, we think it’s important to have a team of pros helping us manage disbursements. We’ll be assembling the board in the coming weeks and I’ll share more about this soon.
“Yesterday my Grade 3 class was on a field trip, and Tommy, one of my students, said, ‘My mom said teachers get too much chocolate.’ And he’s right. So today I talked to my class, told them about Tracy’s accident, and have asked them to make donations instead of buying me any teacher Christmas gifts. I will send them to your website to make donations if that is ok. Keep well, prayers for all of you.”
As my Mom likes to say, “we are surrounded by Angels!”
Tracy was able to spend the day with us at her house on Christmas Day! She wanted it to happen, and had mentioned about being home for Christmas in her first CBC interview. It was her first-time home since the accident and we made it happen.
We hired a private ambulance and they brought her home in a stretcher. While it’s only a five-minute drive, Tracy still finds being jostled around in an ambulance or accessible van uncomfortable and painful. Her house is a tall walk up with many steps and turns to navigate. Unfortunately, the house that she loves doesn’t lend itself to being made accessible and livable for a quadriplegic. The ambulance attendants did an amazing job of carrying her into the house and gingerly positioned Trace in her wheelchair.
She spent the day with her boys and all of us. We opened gifts, enjoyed Christmas dinner and shared lots of laughs. She was happy to be there, to be a part of “the normal.” To be back in her own space, to be in familiar and welcoming surroundings with people she loves, to take part in it all and to savour the celebration. I felt mixed emotions, happy she was with us, but sad and even angry at times.
It was especially difficult when they came to pick her up. It’s not the image of your sister leaving her house that you want in your memory. Her being lifted out of her wheelchair, and put on a stretcher into an ambulance to go back to the hospital. It’s not fair!
3 Steps forward & 10 Steps back
Saturday the 17th Tracy was sent by ambulance to Sunnybrook emergency in the morning. She had been VERY sick for a couple of weeks. Mom and I spent the day with her while we waited for the doctor, and then the X-ray, and then the diagnosis, and then the remedy. It was a long, tiring and stressful day. At the end of which she was to be sent back to Lyndhurst – this was around 8pm – only to find out that the “Ambu Trans” would not be available to pick her up for NINE hours!!! What?? By this point she was extremely uncomfortable and staying in the E.R. was not an option I wanted for her. We asked if they could admit her, but there were no beds. We asked if she could be sent by Toronto EMS but that was not allowed either.
She would have to wait.
So, after I had an emotional breakdown, Mom told me to go home and she would stay til the wee hours of the morning with Tracy and wait for Ambu Trans. As I was leaving, one of the nurses stopped to ask me if I was OK. As I turned my head to the emergency counter, I could see an EMS worker doing paperwork. She had just brought someone in, and so in my exhaustion and frustration, I looked at her and said “hey, what are you doing, why can’t you help us?” to which she replied, “maybe I can, what do you need?” And after telling her Tracy’s story and why she was there that day, she did help us – even though she didn’t have to. Veronica Tello is the Angel who helped us that night. She and her partner took Tracy back to Lyndhurst. It was “kismet” that she was standing there at that moment in time. She is to be commended!
IRON PEOPLE: Cyclists & Spinners with BIG hearts
On Sunday December 18th at 7am in the dark of the early morning’s dawn, on a not-so cold winter’s day, one week before Christmas – a group of dedicated,compassionate and super fit people gathered in the service bays at one of Toronto’s largest GM dealerships to help raise funds for Tracy’s Trust. Like most of the fund-raisers for Tracy, organizers Michael Carmichael the dealer operator of City Buick and professional triathlete Lisa Bentley, had never met Tracy.
They had simply heard her story through Canada’s cycling community and knew that they had to do something to help.
I was not joining in the spin but Robert and I had volunteered to help out and I co-hosted the registration desk with Connie, Michael’s amazing wife. The day before had been tough as we had spent almost 12 hours in Sunnybrook Emergency with a sick Tracy and so I was very tired, and was a little grumpy when the alarm went off at 5:45 am. Robert reminded me that for many of these athletes a 5:45 am wakeup was akin to sleeping in.
It turned out to be a very awakening morning in so many ways! As I greeted and signed people in, I was struck by the sense of community among this group of people. None of the folks spinning had ever met Tracy. Nor did they know her before the accident. But their hearts were full of love and compassion. What they did understand and what seemed to create a very strong bond was — that it could have just as easily been them. Many of these athletes they’d ridden the road that Tracy crashed on and shared their own stories of close calls on Scenic Caves Road in Collingwood.
The 3 HOUR spin was lead by 11x Ironman Champion – Lisa Bentley who every day overcomes her own battle with Cystic Fibrosis. She is an inspiration and believes in overcoming challenges. Her mantra is to “Follow your passion, have a goal and share it with others”
Several of the people who participated have done, or are training for upcoming Ironman races. They are focused, determined and dedicated and they all have a story to share about their journey. What I learned on Sunday morning was that the “Ironpeople” may have “Iron” bodies, but they definitely have soft and compassionate hearts!
Robert says he’s been inspired by all the cyclists from across Canada that have supported our family. While he hasn’t ridden a road-bike in almost 25 years, he now wants to train for the 2012 Centurion and is saving up his pennies to buy a Cervélo. He’s adamant that one of us needs to finish the race that Tracy had trained so hard to prepare for. Hard to argue that.
THANK YOU Michael & Connie Carmichael, all the staff at City Buick who helped out, Lisa & Dave Bentley, D’Ornellas Bike shop and all the amazing athletes who spun their “butts off”! Wow!
Many speak of leadership, yet very seldom do you see someone really step up at a time of need and lead by example.
In hockey, there are plenty of leaders. They usually wear the C or the A on their sweater. There are always others that step up, say something when it is time, or simply do something that can turn the tide, change the momentum.
Sometimes leaders have to do things that are “uncomfortable” to do. They can upset people with decisions, but leaders make those hard decisions. Someone always has to.
On Sept 4th, the day Tracy broke her neck, her sisters, Lynn and Lesley, took charge. Their lives took a significant swerve in the road. They were both being challenged, both emotionally and leadership wise.
They both lead in very different ways. Lesley has an incredible ability to communicate, get on the phone, email, talk and smile, all while having a full-time job and family of her own. She has great energy and spirit.
Lynn too has always been a leader, in good times, and in tough times, stressful times. When the chips have been down in our family, The Pang Family, she rises. She generally clenches her jaw and just gets to work. She is a grinder. She doesn’t take many orders, and has that “charming stubbornness” about her. (I call it charming as it sounds better that way! ) She makes lists, has an incredible grasp on time management and quite simply “gets things done..and then checks them off her list.”
This moment in her life, as a result of this very sad and catastrophic injury to her youngest sister, has been defined. She has really shown her true colours, her leadership ability and character.
These sisters don’t always see eye to eye on how they deal with things. That’s pretty normal as they are both different personalities. Lynn gets right to the point and doesn’t hold back, while Lesley can also get her point across, she can display a softer ability to say the same thing. But in this time of emotion, stress, anxiety and wonder, both Lynn and Lesley have been simply amazing.
Getting back to the early events of the accident to Tracy, Lynn, Sammy and I were pulling up at the front door of our good friends, the Browns, in St Louis, when we received the call from Lesley about Tracy’s accident. Not many details at the time, but they would come, though, as the night developed. We went inside, explained what had happened to Jeanette and her kids. I don’t know exactly what was going through Lynn’s mind, as we were all very numb, but I do know she knew enough to say to me, “Our lives just took a different path” and now, more than 4 months later, Lynn remains in Toronto. She arrived on September 5th and only came back home to pack up the car, put some clothes together, and get our 2 dogs to Toronto in her trusty Toyota Prius.
She has been living at her youngest sister, Tracy’s house, and has been the daily caregiver for Tracy’s 3 sons, aged 7 to 13, as Tracy has sole custody of the boys. Lynn and her Mom Joan, have that house so well-organized and in control, and although there was some adjustment early on for the boys, they know how Lynn works, what she expects and are thriving in their new environment.
Teachers have said to Lynn in Parent-Teacher meetings that ” Whatever you doing with these boys, keep doing it, because they are doing so well.” I know that means a lot to Lynn, and of course, to Tracy.
The boys have been great. I really can’t get over how well they have handled all of this, and we all know that there is a long road ahead for everyone, but it has been impressive. The boys can certainly be a rambunctious trio. As boys will be boys, they can be a handful. But it has been awesome getting to know them, to REALLY know them. I see Lynn with the boys, and she is special. She has really formed a great bond, and on drives to school and back with Christian, they have some really neat banter back and forth. He has been such an awesome kid. He is getting good grades, eats lots of food (and if you know Lynn, she loves to cook) and fun to be around. We recently went skating at UCC and Christian couldn’t get enough! He skated for almost 2 hours, never stopping.
Lynn has everything so well organized, from Thomas activities, school work, reading lots of books, his outdoor hockey, to Malcolm trying out for the school hockey team, and playing in the Lawrence Park Athletic Association outdoor hockey league with his buddy Charlie. I am going to take them to TSN’s studios while I work an NHL game on the Panel, as I did with Christian and his buddies a month ago. Christian just loved it, and couldn’t have been any more respectful!
The boys couldn’t wait to get the Christmas decorations up, and helped getting the boxes in the house, making sure to help Lynn figure out if the lights worked, what usually went where and then off they went, helping out. Christian confirmed that the big tree would look great in front of the window, and gave it a big thumbs up when it was done.
I really enjoy being around the boys, being an Uncle, and try to help Lynn and her Mom. I’m looking forward to Christmas as Tyler and Sammy will be there as well. Our kids have been amazing in this time, and it is so great to see Sammy and Ty show the same qualities and character as their mother in this really difficult time. They are growing up, and showing up, when needed the most.
In the meantime, when I broadcast hockey games, I always look for the players that rise to the occasion, that fight for their space on the ice. The difference makers. It’s not all about the players that get points and media attention. It is about the “glue guys” as much as any. The guys that stick to the fight when they’re hardest hit, that when things get worse, they don’t quit.
They don’t leave town — that’s for sure.
I can’t even begin to describe my thoughts on how proud I am of my wife of 24 years. This has been incredibly stressful on everyone. But in this time of such duress, it is amazing where the strength can come from, how deep you can reach for it and find it, even when you think the well is dry. The entire family reaches down deep every day, and should all be very proud, I know I am of them all.
Enjoy the Holidays, and take nothing for granted. Some moments in life change the path you were on, and when adversity hits, if it does, then your true character will step out…and lead. Just like what Tracy’s entire Family and so many friends have done.
It’s the old cliché that we’ve heard a million times, but sadly it is true. The clock nor the calendar stand still for anyone! People must get on with their lives, their work, their families, their day-to-day routines, their social gatherings, their celebrations, their appointments … their “busy“. Slowly the impact of Tracy’s accident is fading for some. Priorities shift. It’s amazing to think that it was only 3 months + 1 week ago on labour day weekend that Tracy’s life changed – along with our entire family.
The difference for Tracy is that the impact of that fateful day is more real than ever. Each day brings unknowns. Each day brings new challenges. Each day staying healthy, well, strong in her mind and her immobile body is paramount to survival. Each day she is completely dependant on others for every aspect of her life. Just imagine.
HOW TO LIVE LIFE at LYNDHURST
Tracy’s inspirational attitude comes from within her. She is tenacious and driven, but during this tragic time she has drawn great strength from the positive and powerful energy, love and compassion of people. Visitors: families, acquaintances, work colleagues, fitness fanatics, school buddies, neighbourhood pals, ….FRIENDS….
True Friends Strengthen and Help Each Other
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.(NLT)
GRACIAS, MERCI, GRAZIE, DANKESCHON!
A VERY BIG note of appreciation toJane Roos and her husband Conrad for opening up their gorgeous Gallery on November 29th for a spectacular evening of art and friendship. Thanks also to a very special group of women called the MINOES (mother in need of entertainment) who have found the key to “happiness in the hood” and hosted a fantastic night of fun and fellowship Thursday December 1st.
WHAT IS CHRISTMAS?
I asked Abby today if it was OK if we didn’t put up a Christmas tree this year. I know how much she loves the tree, the ornaments and the amazing smell. I felt guilty. I explained that I just didn’t have it in me to take on this task. She paused and then she said “it’s OK Mom, the tree doesn’t actually matter.” Of course! She was right, the tree doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are all together and Tracy is alive and every day we should be grateful for small miracles each day.
Words cannot express our sincere appreciation. Here is a growing but not inclusive list of those we wish to acknowledge and express thanks to: