Walking down Main Street Moose Jaw these past few days at the annual “Sidewalk Days” festival, I was cocooned into a realm of vibrant energy.
Dancing to the rhythm of the buskers, radios, jazz band, or on stage performers- consumers weaved through sale rack upon sale rack. Tiny painted faces gazed in awe at the various Superhero and Princess characters roaming the road.
I blushed as these same tiny faces stopped in their tracks at the sight of my crown and wondered if I was a real life Princess before them. Adding to their sugary collection of cotton candy & mini donuts, I offered suckers and exchanged names and warm smiles with many future beauty queens of the South Central region.
My home base was at The Hibiscus Boutique, a sponsor of mine whose fashionista-fueled staff and I have enjoyed countless games of dress up while finding the perfect outfits to flaunt during my time in Toronto. With the duty to wander throughout the crowd and hand out coupons to draw attention in toward the store, I had a wonderful time visiting with the people of our city. Much like my Canada Day adventures, I came across many who had seen my name in the paper and were excited to meet me in person. Posing for multiple photos requested by my new acquaintances, it was odd to get used to others being excited enough to have met me that they wanted a picture to show it off!
I enjoyed taking the advantage of being able to share with more and more people the ins & outs to the Pageant, including the importance of a platform. Spreading the word about the efforts I have made and the passion I have to bring awareness to Spinal Muscular Atrophy is what I believe to be the key ingredient into being someone they will not forget. If even just one of the various persons I introduced my platform to joins the next SMA fundraiser they hear about- I will feel successful.
One man I met whom I personally will not forget, goes by the name of Anas Cheema. From Pakistan, he is currently a fourth year student at the University of Victoria. On a very unique mission, he left the island 19 days ago and began his journey cycling across Canada in order to bring awareness and raise money for SOS Children’s Villages. While speaking with him, I shared my platform and we discussed some fundraising techniques that soon led into a very humble conversation. While I can not imagine the mental and physical strength it takes to cycle across a whole country, it was clear he was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Explaining how I raised money for Free The Children and the Families of SMA Canada, he interrupted me by looking me straight in the eye and asking “Was it hard?”
A little shocked, I paused and looked back at him. This man who I had been silently fan-girling over for his outstanding efforts was seeking advice from me. Answering a simple “yes,” he released a heavy breathe and confided in me the mental battle he was going through. Relating to his feeling that he wasn’t working hard enough, that there must be something he could do to bring in more money for the children he wanted to build better lives for, I felt at peace in our conversation and I hope he did to. Closing with the comforting thought that if he simply meets a thousand people on his journey who each donate just one looney, he will have made $1000- I believe he once again felt that fiery motivation that led him to the open road to begin with. On his Facebook Page, he posted a photo that reads: I am in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met. That phrase is so simple and so beautiful and so truthful. Who knew I would have met that man and been able to relate so well? Who knew that three minute conversation would re-ignite our drive to keep moving forward in our goals and be so soothing to the strained thoughts we each had towards our efforts?
In my very first blog post, I spoke about using this blog to be completely honest with my audience because I believe that is the best thing we as humans can be. The honesty in my encounter with Anas created a moment I will never forget. Yes, it is hard to jump out into the world and promote yourself as well as a cause you believe in, but it is absolutely worth it. If neither of us had taken that risk, neither of us would have met each other or the thousands of others we have and will meet.
Leading a fearless existence with the dare to dream your dreams and create a life you love is the most challenging thing you can do, yet the most rewarding.