I got an email the other day. From The Toronto Maple Leaf's...saying I was chosen to be their "Good Neighbour" for the month. They choose 9 people a year for this award, and that is just CRAZY! I can think of 10 million other people instantly who would deserve it more than me (notably every parent who is part of this project!). It is to highlight people who are doing something to give back their community and make it better, somehow, for others. I am honoured and beyond flattered. I am also very EXCITED because with the presentation of the award tomorrow at the Leaf's game, I also get 2 (pretty awesome!) tickets to the game. I am taking Sadie's (The Sun Princess) Mom with me - who is such a wonderful friend I can't wait to catch up and spend a couple hours just "being" together. She deserves this award more than I do.
This project would be NOTHING without the families who make it magical. Families like the Maluda's - who introduced all of us to the magic that is Marco. Marco was born with a broken heart, and after a heart transplant - then going on to beating cancer - he was taken far too early from all of us this past October after the cancer returned far too strong and much too quickly. Marco was Sadie's best friend.
Marco is truly the heart and soul of this project - the belief and HOPE that anything is possible. His mother and father Julia & Miro deserve this award more than I do. And I hope in my heart that they know that. Marco, The Explorer - is the spirit that lives inside every single child within this project. Marco will forever be a symbol of HOPE and INSPIRATION. Every day that Marco graced this world was a miracle - and he is proof to this very day, that anything is possible.
I will never ever ever forget the day I met Marco and his incredible family. His mom Julia and his sister Nicole and I took a walk to the park near their house. I was enamoured with Marco's painting that he sent me - a huge, giant apple that challenged a massive sun the same size. At first I had no clue what I was going to make from that - until I met him. I arrived with a bag of apples, some ribbon, and a heart full of curiosity. Marco stole that heart in seconds, and I felt more at home with the Maluda's than I thought possible. The afternoon was full of throwing apples in the air, rolling down a hill, and jumping around like we were weightless.
Here's what we came up with:
I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow. Or any day after that. But, I do know what I want to accomplish - which is exactly what I set out to, more than 2 years ago. To continue bringing smiles to kids who need it, bringing hope and happiness to families who could use it, and helping children see that anything is possible - even magic apples that can fly through the sky. I know that I would be nothing without these families who have gone - and are going through - more than I will ever know. I know that I am lucky to be let into their lives for a day, to give their children - and themselves - something that can hopefully last a lifetime.
Every drawing and dream I turn into a photograph, and tomorrow when I accept that "Good Neighbour" award - there will always be a piece of Marco in it. His very special heart will be a part of every inch that this project climbs, and every accolade this project receives - because it's hearts like his that have made this project what it is.