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!
One year ago today Tracy’s life changed in a instant.
“Isolated, by itself, what is a minute? Merely a measurement of time. There are 60 in an hour, 1,440 in a day. At seventeen, I had already ticked off more than 9,000,000 of them in my life.
Yet, in some cosmic plan, this single minute was isolated. Into these particular sixty seconds was compressed more significance than all the millions of minutes marking my life prior to this instant.” from – Joni: An Unforgetable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada
Thank you to everyone who has donated, supported, participated, visited, volunteered and cared!
The journey continues…..
It’s been 9 months…
HOMECOMING: Tracy moved out of Lyndhurst Hospital yesterday and back into her house on Ranleigh Avenue to be with her boys. She decided this was the best move for her at this time. Modifications were done to the basement to make it an accessible living space and she now has her own team of personal caregivers.
So here’s the scoop….I have not written a blog post over the past few months because my relationship with Tracy (and my Mom) has been very strained. As you can imagine Tracy’s accident turned all of our lives upside down and we all naturally took on the roles best suited to us.
In the beginning we rallied for her without hesitation. It was instinctive. We did what we needed to do to help her survive and made decisions that we all felt would help Tracy have the best quality of care and quality of life possible – all things considered.
We all seem to refer to these past nine months as a “journey” that we are going through. As with many journeys there are, have been and will continue to be bumps in the road, delays, frustration, fatigue, intersections with more than one path – choices!
These are just some of the challenges one encounters on a journey. Combine this with strong personalities, priorities, personal values, temperament and family history and you have a recipe for major turmoil. The “rallying” our family did in the beginning becomes the tearing apart of the family. The crisis that triggered the journey exposes the best and the worst of whom we are as humans – our reluctance to want to forgive, our inability to want to acknowledge our deepest flaws…and so on….
And so the “journey” continues…
I hope for much healing and forgiveness for us all as we move forward.
p.s. While Tracy is now back home, she’s still eager to have visitors. She’s continuing to use Lotsahelpinghands to manage the schedule. You can sign up here to visit Tracy at home!
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!
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
If you are interested in helping with any of these roles, or if you are interested in joining Team Tracy, please contact Debbie Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jeff Chalmers (email@example.com)
Here’s a little taste of The Centurion experience from last year. We hope you’ll ride with us!
Please share this post on Facebook and Twitter.
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.