Friends, Tracy passed away peacefully last night at Sunnybrook Hospital at 11pm. We are using Facebook to provide updates and share her story. Please follow her journey at facebook.com/tracydort
I would like to start the very first blog that I have written on my website by saying Hello and THANK YOU to everyone who has followed my story, creating and participating in my fund-raisers, handling all of my emails, visiting me at the hospital, making dinners for my family, driving my kids to school, creating my website, raising money for and donating to Tracy’s Trust, taking care of my children, providing emotional support and respite to my family members and the lists of Thank You’s goes on!
I have survived because of all of you. Surviving is hard work. It takes an enormous amount of resources to get me where I am today and everyday! Its busy, its painful, its hard and it can be overwhelmingly stressful. But because of you, (my family, my friends, my supporters et al) I am able to face each day with a positive attitude and something to look forward to.
One of the things I was looking forward to was the Collingwood Centurion 2012, because I had a team, “Team Tracy” that was going to cycle the 50 mile ride in my honor! This team, “Team Tracy” , was founded to complete the race that I was training for when my accident happened. So…on September 16, 2012 Team Tracy rode in the Centurion 50M ride and on the anniversary of my accident, brought my life full circle and gave me the amazing opportunity to still take part in a sport that I love so much.
Here is the letter that I wrote to Team Tracy to thank them for riding for me:
[box] Dear Team Tracy,
It was a beautiful day and the temperature was on our side.
I have to Thank You for completing my dream. And helping me move forward in my new reality. A year ago today I was in critical care at Sunnybrook hospital unable to speak, unable to move, barely able to communicate. I was only able to communicate by blinking my eyes when someone asked me a question. Blink once for yes and twice for no. At that point I knew I was going to live but I had no idea of the challenges that would be ahead. I live my life One Day At A Time. A lesson I learned from my father and mother. The best advice I have ever been given. I have also learned from my parents that it is important to think positive, to set goals and to look forward as you live one day at a time.
So that’s what I did. Every day I woke up hoping it was just a dream but quickly realizing it was not and I had a choice. I could face the day as a pessimist or an optimist. And every day I chose to be happy and to be grateful. Most of the time it was really easy to be happy because I would wake up to the smiling, but concerned face of either my sister Lynn, my sister Lesley, my Mom or Dad or Robert or Darren.
In those early days this was so meaningful to me. The love I felt from my family kept me going. Their drive, their determination, their love was the fuel for my engine. And knowing that I had three beautiful, wonderful and scared boys at home gave me courage to be brave and always try to have a smile on my face. It wasn’t often that they saw anything but a smile on my face. I was in my family’s embrace and everything was going to be O.K. It had to be for Christian, Malcolm, and Thomas depended on me. My goal was to get better as quickly as possible and every day I fought against all odds to get out of that hospital. I left Sunnybrook in record time for someone with an injury as high up as mine.
Suffice it to say I am a fighter and there aren’t any challenges I am afraid to face. This weekend in Collingwood was very bittersweet for me. Thank you all for your smiles and your hugs and your compliments and your words of encouragement! I would have given anything to be riding with you on Sunday. Honestly I was secretly just a bit jealous of each one of you. This was the race I had trained for when my accident happened. The first year that the Centurion came to Collingwood I entered the 25 mile race. That year, Centurion 2010, I placed 3rd in my age category in the 25 mile and immediately after winning that bronze medal I set a goal to race in the 50 mile next year, Centurion 2011, and try to place top three. I was very excited that the Centurion had come to Collingwood because Collingwood was my second home and it meant that I would be able to race every year. I was very much looking forward to Centurion 2011. However, that was the year I suffered my devastating accident training for the Centurion 2011, 50M race.
So that’s why this year, Centurion 2012, was so important to me. And I am so grateful that you joined Team Tracy and rode in my honor! I had not been back to the village since before my accident. It was exhilarating and exiting to see everyone in their cycling gear with their beautiful bikes their shaved legs and all the toned hard bodies!
I’m proud of all of Team Tracy for completing the race in my honor. It was a privilege for me to be there at the end to congratulate you on completing your own goal! Some of you were daring enough to ride for me without any training at all! I was really impressed with your chutzpah and your courage. And some of you raced for your personal best. All of you making me feel like a superstar! I want to Thank You all for putting smiles on my face. For giving me something to look forward to. And for donating to Tracy’s Trust.
This fundraiser will go far helping me to pay for the overwhelming costs associated with my care. Our inaugural Team Tracy, Centurion 2012 ride was an outstanding success! One which we can build on for years to come! We already have our co-chairs established for next year! Tammy Cavers and Kate Veer have stepped up and offered to co-chair the event next year. It is our hope that we will have lots of new members to Team Tracy and that all of you will come back and ride with Team Tracy again next year in the Centurion 2013!
As some of you already know, Tracy took delivery of a beautiful new MV-1 accessible van last month. The MV-1 is the first factory-built, wheelchair friendly vehicle on the market. Tracy really took her time and looked at many options including van conversions but ultimately decided that the MV-1 was the best solution for her, the family and her caregivers.
I know we don’t say it enough – Thank you. Soooo many of you have generously cycled, planked, stretched, purchased, promoted, and spun to help us raise almost $250,000.
Because of you, Tracy’s Trust Fund was able to cover the $56,000 cost of the van. We’ve also used the Trust Fund to cover the medical training for one of Tracy’s future caregivers, monthly accommodation fees at Lyndhurst, and her physiotherapy with David Frake.
Again, thank you for supporting Tracy. And be sure to give her a honk when you see the MV-1 — it’s hard to miss!
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
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 to Jane 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:
- Crestwood Preparatory College and all of Christian’s teachers
- Peter DeMarco of Demarco Peprich Canada’s leading florist
- Super-start realtor Carol Anne Warrington for taking care of the sale of Tracy’s home and providing a full commission deduction
- Michael Kalles from Harvey Kalles Real Estate for graciously returning the company’s commission on the sale of Tracy’s home
- Uptown Landscaping – Daron Robertson and his team of green thumbs for looking after Tracy’s house
- Greg Clees at Clees Catering and team of foodies
- Suzanne Martin – Speech Language Pathologist
- Robyn’s Cookies makes of Toronto’s best chocolate chip cookie
- Bedford Park School Moms
- Stevie Krupski and Silvia Prime
- Victoria Williams
- Snowhawks – Heather and Mitch and their amazing ski and snowboard school
- The incredibly talented Jane Roos of Jane Roos Gallery for a beautiful art-filled fund raiser
- Track Fitness for hosting a great spin fund raiser
- Moksha Yoga Uptown for sharing their studio for a sweat and spin fund raiser
- Pure Fitness and Deirdre Casey aka Irongirl for a fantastic spin fund raiser
- Extreme Fitness and VP Jaqueline Walters for their continued support and ongoing fund raising
- MINOES for a very touching and heartfelt fund raiser
- Milton Davis and the team at Davis Moldaver LLP
- Sue Henderson from Suetables and her beautiful necklace fund raising effort
- Mike Bullard and his team at Newstalk1010 for turning his show into a laugh-filled benefit for Tracy
- Rick Hansen and his 25th Anniversary Relay Team for including Tracy in the Toronto leg of the relay
- Craigleith Ski Club for supporting our family
- Michael Carmichael from CityBuick for incredible spin fundraiser for Tracy at his dealership
- 11x Ironman champ Lisa Bentley for leading CityBuick Spin for Tracy and for reaching out to so many of her friends and clients
Love and joy, les xo
CBC, CTV, Global, Rick Hansen, NewsTALK 1010’s Mike Bullard have all interviewed, videotaped, photographed and spent time with Tracy over the past few weeks. The Globe and Mail, Canada’s National Newspaper, even put her on the front page as part of a major report on catastrophic injuries. She has become an awesome spokesperson and advocate for those living with spinal cord injuries. She enjoys the limelight, thrives on the attention and rises to the occasion each time. It is what has fuelled her each day. It has given her a reason to have her hair blow dried and her make up applied. It keeps her mind occupied and off of the pain, the paralysis, the prognosis and the future.
So, what happens when all the “hoopla” dies down. Where will her thoughts go when the lights, the cameras and the reporters go away? What “stage” of grieving is she really in? Could it be denial? We talk of her strength, her spirit and her being inspirational. But are we – her family – also in denial? Are we fooling ourselves?
September 4th to November 13 – 70 days, 2 and a half months, 10 weeks – that’s all it’s been since she had her accident. Is that enough time to process that for the rest of her life she will be confined to a wheelchair? Is it enough time to understand how dependant she will be forever more on others for everything. Can she really have grasped the notion of her “new normal”? And how will she cope if or when she does? Or am I wrong, and she’s already moved past this? I do hope that’s the case.
There’s always Hope
There are many people we’ve met since this happened, some who have been injured or paralyzed themselves, some who practice in the field of SCI patients, and others who are related to, or know someone with paralysis – but one common thread in the conversation is you’ve gotta have HOPE! It’s the “Secret” – that life is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you believe and put your mind into a positive space you will achieve your goals. The doctors are not always right and have often been proven wrong by tenacious, strong minded, determined patients who overcome the odds and can now use their arms, use their hands or even walk!! We have hope for Tracy and I know she has the drive to prove all the textbooks wrong!
I realized that I have not said THANK YOU in my recent posts. I want you all to know how incredibly grateful we are for the generosity and compassion of everyone around us – friends, family and strangers. We can’t thank you enough for your: donations, your visits with Tracy, your support, your prayers, your notes, your calls, your willingness to pitch in and your caring. It is this positive energy that helps us all to keep going. We could NOT do it without you! Words don’t seem to express our enormous feelings of gratitude and appreciation. God Bless
I want to send a shout out to my sister Lynn Pang. The oldest of the Dort girls. Lynn has moved to Toronto from St. Louis, given up her life to become the main caregiver for Tracy’s three boys. She has been cooking (so good!), caring, driving, nurturing, nursing and loving Tracy’s boys since the accident. She helps with homework, meets with teachers, organizes activities and plans ahead for all things kid- related. She has become their advocate and their protector. I don’t know what we’d do without her selflessness.Thank you Lynn! xo
I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention how much my wonderful husband – Robert Lendvai - has done to help Tracy. He’s the marketing genius/social media expert behind this website and her Twitter profile. He’s the one who set up the online donation mechanism, he’s become the finance manager, the car salesman, the PR/Media Manager, the go-to for all things fundraising. He has lifted me up on the bad days and cheered me on, on the good days. He’s always thinking about how he can help and what’s next on the list. I can’t thank him enough! How lucky I am. xo
– Tomorrow is a new day –
Extreme Fitness Fundraiser for Tracy at The Dunfield Club
9 30 AM – On Friday morning Extreme Fitness hosted three separate classes (step, sculpt and spin) all in honour of Tracy. Tracy has been a group exercise teacher at their Dunfield Club location since 1994, back when it was a Sports Club. When I arrived at the Dunfield, I walked into the main entrance. As I approached the front desk to introduce myself to the receptionist, I could feel an energy in the building that sent a wave of emotion through my body. This was a place that Tracy frequented – to teach, to work out, to visit, to share, to motivate, to recharge… I had been there with her as a guest several times. Those memories flooded my mind as I tearfully explained to the young girl at the front desk that I was Tracy’s sister. It would never be the same.
I had the privilege of addressing each class to say thank you and in each room I could feel a sense of warmth and compassion. I decided to take part in Shellie’s step class and part way into the class, Jacqueline from Extreme Fitness came into the class to say that one person had come to the club and presented a $5,000 cheque for Tracy! Words are not able to capture the awesome feelings of gratitude. It’s a morning I will never forget.
CTV News with Pauline Chan
11 15 AM – Pauline Chan and her camera man interviewed me at The Dunfield Club and then they followed me over to Lyndhurst to speak with Tracy. She spent time chatting with Pauline about her spinal cord injury, how it happened, and how she is coping. She talked about how through her own fitness, she had learned to set goals for herself and how that discipline was now helping her. They then followed her into physio and rehab to see what it’s like for a “day in the life” of Tracy. You can watch Pauline’s story about Tracy here.
News Talk 1010 with Mike Bullard
At 12 46 PM after a quick bite, Tracy borrowed Robert’s iPhone and went “live” on the radio with comedian and NewsTalk 1010 host Mike Bullard. Mike’s amazing producer Jordan Whelan was a regular participant in Tracy’s group fitness classes at the Dunfield, and he took the initiative to get Mike involved to help raise awareness for Tracy. She did a great job in her radio début! You can listen to the Podcast of her interview here. More on Mike’s incredible fundraiser for Tracy later.
Meeting the “Man in Motion”
At 4pm we all had the enormous pleasure of having a private meeting with Rick Hansen. Rick is one of the most inspirational people you’ll ever meet and a hero to all Canadians.
Rick was in Toronto as part of his 12,000 kilometer cross-country 25th anniversary tour. He requested a one-on-one meeting for one hour with Tracy – she was the only one he was visiting on Friday. He came to Lyndhurst that day just to meet and chat with Tracy. The next day he was back at Lyndhurst for a medal event with the Mayor and full court press, but Friday was different. He is a down-to-earth gracious, warm man who makes everyone feel at ease. We brought the boys and Abby to meet him and took a couple of photos, along with the CTV cameras. We then all left the room so that Tracy and Rick could chat. And that they did, for over 45 minutes!
Debbie Butt, Rick’s Director of Communications, who is a vibrant, smart and caring woman spent time with us as we waited for Tracy’s convo to end. She shared stories and insights that we will carry with us as we move forward in our journey. Rick is lucky to have Debbie, and vice versa!
Tracy – Still Very Much a Medical Patient
Friday was a long but rewarding day for Tracy. She moved forward with each appointment like a trooper. She would just ask me “What’s Next?” But at the end of the day, it was very clear that our Tracy is still a medical patient who is fragile and has broken bones with serious medical conditions. After Rick Hansen left, she needed to get into her bed to rest. The not-so-simple process of hoisting her out of the wheelchair and back to bed had to be done gently and slowly as she was having spasms and was in a lot of pain. The adrenaline of the day had clearly worn off.
Upcoming Fundraiser – Thursday November 10th
Robert was giddy with excitement when we learned that has favorite comic, Mike Bullard, had graciously decided to turn his November 10th show at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts into a fundraiser for Tracy’s Trust. $5 from every ticket sold will be donated to support the long-term care of Tracy’s spinal injuries. Mike is the host of Beyond the Mic on Toronto’s NEWSTALK 1010, Canada’s top radio talk station. We’re hoping that all of our Toronto friends will join us at Mike’s show.
Our plan is to bring Tracy to the show. It’ll be her first night out since the accident. Please Click here for ticket info.
Thanks for reading! …say thanks to God next time you stub your toe!
Luv, Les xo
p.s. We just heard that Friday was also “Pyjama Day for Tracy” at Crestwood School. Thank you to all the boys and girls that raised an astonishing $2,000. We’re so very grateful.