I have been sharing a link since yesterday about voting for "Heather's Run", the memorial race started last year in memory of my friend's daughter who was killed by a drunk driver in December 2008.
I don't think a facebook post or 140 characters is enough to explain anything about this event or the reason it is being held in the first place.
Heather Saaltink was a beautiful independent girl, loving daughter and beloved sister, fabulous athlete, best friend, strong minded learner, living her life with joy at school, surrounded by an incredible circle of friends.
Her car was hit by a drunk driver, while she was driving home after a day in Ottawa, home from Lakehead University on Christmas break, with her sister and her dad. She was in the driver's seat, having offered to drive home for her dad. She was killed while her sister and dad were injured, her dad very seriously.
This ripped the heart out of our community. It is a small city, people know each other.
Heather's mom was the first teacher my son ever had. Through her humour and teaching talents, she taught me much about my son, his strengths and weaknesses. She taught me how to advocate for him and how to let go and let others have an impact. She probably has no idea the gift she gave me those first few years. We share an intense love of our children, believing in the importance of teaching independence while making sure the kids have a safe place to fall.
The safe place being us...family.
She shared honestly and with great laughs the exploits of her three girls, each so quirky and unique and absolutely loved. I aspired to be a mom like her, with children so capable and strong.
To lose Heather in such a senseless manner was just absolutely ridiculous. Unbelievable really.
To describe the loss? Impossible.
How do you describe losing light?
To a friend, Heather once wrote "I am the people and the places of my life" .
And since losing her, this has indeed become a reality.
Her loved ones could have simply retreated into quiet. The pain is overwhelming. There were challenges to be overcome by her dad and sisters and mom, physical and emotonal The loss is clearly written on their faces.
They didn't though.
On November 28th last year, the first Heather Saaltink Memorial Run was held.
With a slate of races, close to 625 people came out to run and raise money for awareness about impaired driving.
It was also something more.
What happened that day was that a community touched by overwhelming loss came out and celebrated.
Heather was celebrated.
Her sisters ran side by side.
Her mom smiled through her tears all day. That grin of hers;).
And her dad.
Her dad was seriously hurt in the accident. He underwent surgeries and therapy for months after the accident.
And he ran.
For his daughter.
When he came across that finish line, he came across glowing, with the light of Heather.
Heather has become the people and places in her life. She is remembered and celebrated.
The second annual Heather Saaltink Memorial Run takes place November 6, 2010 in our little town of Long Sault, Ontario. It is open to 500 hundred participants and will likely completely fill up.
The run has been recognized by True Sport Canada as one of six finalists in it's Give Back Challenge. The prize is 10,000$ to support "true sport" in the community. From the True Sport website, "The selection criteria included community impact, ability to motivate others to get involved, innovation and creativity, and ability to connect and work with others to make a greater difference".
Heather's Run has accomplished all this and more.
If you can, please vote. Voting continues until October 21st. You can vote multiple times.
If you can't, please think about why all this is a reality in the first place.
One individual chose to get in his vehicle while impaired.
In doing so, he changed the lives of many. He created tragedy.
Do not drink and drive.