Three months ago I attended a course on Optimal Individual Service Design in Vernon put on by Michael Kendrick and Janet Klees. One of the aspects of the course was that we would be paired up with an individual from the local community who was presently receiving services and together we would create an optimal plan that would look to meet that individuals unique needs. Rumor had it that there was one individual who was really interested in drinking beer and watching hockey, two things I am extremely fond of myself. I silently hoped that I would be matched up with this person. Later when I found out that I had been matched up with a man named Steven, I inquired to some of the course participants who were familiar with the local agency and would you believe it, he was the one who liked hockey and beer.
I spent lots of time over the next few weeks getting to know Steven and working with him and those in his surrounding network to create a plan for what Michael Kendrick called a “good life”. At the end of the course, my group and I presented our proposal for Steven to the rest of the course participants. One point of feed back was that we didn’t dream big enough in our proposal of what would constitute a meaningful life for Steven. Hearing this, I decided to throw out a question to the rest of the group: What if Steven had the opportunity to fly down to Vancouver, meet up with me, and watch his favourite team in the whole world, the Vancouver Canucks, from really great seats. People agreed that that would be really great, and that was the extent of the discussion.
During the break from the course I was approached by Gary and Henry, the directors of the two local community living organizations, who both mentioned their connections to being able to get Canucks tickets. We all agreed that Henry would look into getting Steven and I tickets through his connection.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks later and I hear from Steven’s mother, Joan, that Henry has come through with two tickets to a game on January 5th, and that she is looking into flights for her and Steven to come down to Vancouver. Amazingly, January the 5th is Steven’s birthday. A couple of weeks later the flights were finalized and there are plans in place for me to meet Steven and his mother at the Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel for dinner, before Steven and I go to the game. After dinner at White Spot on the night of the game, Steven and I headed downtown to GM Place. After parking at an overpriced lot, we walked over to the arena and tried to find a way inside. After walking around basically the whole building, we had still not found a wheelchair entrance (Steven had recently started using a wheelchair). We came to the outside entrance to the Canucks merchandise store and asked the man at the door if he knew of a wheelchair entrance to the building. He asked me where my tickets were. I showed him and he suggested going through gate 16. For some reason he decided to accompany us there. He asked about the tickets and I showed him where we were sitting. He replied that our tickets were not in a wheelchair zone. I said that was okay as Steven could walk with my support.
This is where things got interesting. The man asked us to wait while he got his supervisor on the phone, and while he was waiting for her to come and talk to us we got to telling him the story of how we got the tickets, finishing with the part about how coincidently the game happened to fall on Steven’s birthday. Once they found that out they were determined to get us a better set of seats.
We sat there for awhile while 3 members of the Canucks host team looked for seats for us. Eventually we were asked to follow them down a corridor, through a door, and into the bottom of GM Place. We got to there area where the zambonis were parked just in time to see the referees go running out onto the ice. It turns out they put us in some of the best seats in the whole place. We were at the glass, right behind the Canucks goalie, Roberto Luongo. By some chance of fate, the people who usually sit in the best seats in all of GM Place could not make it to the game on the night where Steven happened to be in town, which also happened to be his birthday. I’m not religious, but if that is not a miracle then I don’t know what is. Oh, and the game, the Canucks kicked butt. Pucks, sticks and bodies smashed the glass in front of us, Fin the mascot was standing beside us on numerous occasions, and hats flew over our heads after Alex Burrows scored his third goal of the game, completing his hat trick. The Canucks ended up winning 7-3.
The best part is that it couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Steven is an individual who is so friendly and accepting of everyone he meets and his positive attitude is contagious. He is a person that welcomes new people into his life without hesitation. I know because I experienced it first hand. He is a great guy, who got a great birthday present, and I am so grateful that things came together for him to make this night a reality. Someone once said “Dream no small dreams for they have no part to move the hearts of men”. Consider my heart moved.
I would like to thank everyone who made this experience possible for Steven: Michael Kendrick, Janet Klees, Henry from Kindale Society, Gary from North Okanagan Community Living, Joanne and Julie from Kindale, and Steven’s mother, Joan.