Posted by: Kennedy | August 23, 2011

Gratitude

This morning I headed out for a long run. It was a beautiful day – 20 degrees and sunny, with a nice breeze in the air.

Everything was as it normally is – same shorts, same tank top, same hat, same playlist, same route. But something was different…

With every step, I thought about how I grateful I was to be running.

Two days ago, an F3 tornado hit Goderich, Ontario, the neighbouring town to my hometown of Clinton. The damage it left is devastating – many residents have lost their homes, almost 40 people were injured and one man was killed. All over town, trees have been uprooted, power lines are down, and windows are shattered.

Note: Photos courtesy of Facebook

Looking at the photos and videos of the aftermath that had surfaced online just a few hours after the storm, my family and I sat in shock and disbelief at what had happened to a town so close to our hearts. I calmed down a little after hearing that friends who live there were safe, but still felt such sadness over the great losses the town has suffered.

The historic downtown square – home of many local businesses and restaurants – bore the brunt of the destruction, along with the salt mine, which is a huge part of Goderich’s economy.

Post-tornado aerial view of Courthouse Square

So sad.

I’ve been spending time in Goderich since I was a toddler. Growing up, my favourite spot was Fincher’s – a book and toy store on the square. I could spend hours in there while my mom shopped for shoes and other grown-up stuff I had no interest in.

I also spent a lot of time at Rotary Cove beach over the years, splashing in the waves and begging my parents for an ice cream cone. I was just there on Friday. And of course, I loved going to the Park Theatre – well into my teen years, my friends and I would head there on Tuesdays for “cheap night” (and I do mean cheap – ticket price circa 2000: $4.50).

While I was in high school and then university, I continued to hang out in Goderich often with my friends – “touring” the square, hitting up the Pizza Hut lunch buffet during spare in Grade 12, having drinks at Big Daddy’s (now Wicked Willy’s), pub food at Paddy O’Neill’s, bowling at Little Bowl, the Candlelight’s always-popular Boxing Day party… the list goes on.

In June of this year, I watched two good friends get married in a beautiful old church on Victoria St. that is now missing a roof and will surely need to be torn down.

Such a shame.

Today, I felt truly lucky to be out running in the sunshine, with the odd tree to provide a few seconds of shade. No shattered glass or building remnants to sidestep.

Sometimes I take things, like my ability to run, for granted. It seems like such a simple, universal act, but it’s not.

There are places in the world where running is just not an option. We’re so fortunate here in Canada to have the freedom to go where we want, when we want, and feel safe. I have the luxury of choice – and if I want, I can choose a healthy lifestyle. For that, I have nothing but gratitude.

It’s okay to be sad and mourn what’s been lost. But it’s also important to keep in mind that homes can be rebuilt, cars can be replaced, more trees can be planted. The strength and tenacity of this community is one thing that a tornado cannot tear apart.

I know many people are interested in lending their support. United Way of Perth-Huron has set up a Goderich Tornado Relief Fund. There are several ways to donate: by phone: 1-877-818-8867 (toll-free); online: www.perthhuron.unitedway.ca; or text “UCARE” to 45678 to donate $5. The Salvation Army has set up a similar fund.

You can also check out this auction on Facebook. It is now open for bids, closing on Friday, August 26 at 10 p.m. Looks like there are some great items up for bid and all proceeds are going to support tornado victims, via a charity to be chosen by the Town of Goderich.

Wherever you are in the world today, take a moment to be thankful for what you love…

Today, I’m thanking my family, my friends, my hometown, my country, emergency response workers (paid and especially unpaid), Ontario farmers, my Grandpa and his vegetable garden, and finally, my body, for letting me pound out another long run in the sunshine.

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Responses

  1. Well said Kennedy!! We take so much for granted. it is good to take time to be grateful for our many blessings. CHEERS to you for your words of wisdom.

  2. Beautiful Kennedy, I have many of those same memories. Even though we’re only back to Clinton once a year, we always make the trip over to Goderich.

  3. Lovely post Kennedy.

  4. Very lovely post, Kennedy!


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