17 Apr Inspiration

Russ Dantu is a member of Alienation (www.alienation.ca), speaking to youth on the subjects of racism, bullying, drugs, alcohol, suicide, acceptance, peer pressure and other social issues they may be struggling with; helping youth make wiser decisions and unleash their potential. He has given me permission to share his story. I know it is a bit long, but well worth the read. Please feel free to share this blog with youth pastors, government agencies or schools, basically anyone working with youth. I hope you will find this as inspirational as I did.

I was 9 years old when I came to Canada from England. All the other kids were playing hockey. I was a decent soccer player but I really wanted to play as well, so I did! I was the worst player on the worst team in our community when I started. For those of you old enough to remember, I had a Butch Goring helmet with a small mouth strap (not like the full shields kids wear today) and some old, brown leather Gordy Howe gloves…along with the rest of my equipment that was second hand. Each year, they had the Kinsmen Skate-A-Thon fundraiser. Every player received a straight blade wooden stick for participating (kids these days won’t take anything less than a $150-300 Synergy stick, for the most part) and we could win prizes by participating. We had to get sponsors who would pay so much per lap skated or a flat rate. Being new to Canada, I knew I could never raise as much money as the other kids who had lots of family here or many friends, but I tried hard and raised a bit of money. The top few producers would win a major prize. The other way to win a major prize was to skate the most laps around an arena in a one hour time period (yes, I was the slowest, worst, crappiest, lowest, newest player in the community – we had 6 teams of about 17 players on each team…..I was absolutely the worst).

We were at the Ernie Starr arena in Forest Lawn, had a number pinned to our backs, and we were spilt into 4 corners. Each time you passed your corner, you yelled out your number, and the parents assigned to mark the sheet each time you passed, did so. The horn blasted and we all started skating. I remember the really fast kids, lapping me several times…laughing and poking fun at me (some of them) or telling me to get out of the way because I was holding them up. I kept skating. After a while, every other player had lapped me several times but I kept skating. Pretty soon, the other players would go off the ice, get a drink of water, complain that they were tired and needed a chocolate bar, go to the washroom….and I kept skating. I remember one of my friends’ Dad’s, Bob McGeachie leaned over the boards “That a boy Russ, keep going, you are doing great!” It was at that time when I needed a boost. My parents were always there cheering me on but sometimes it is that outside support that keeps you going. About 45 minutes into the skate-a-thon, my legs were like jelly, my throat was dry, and I was sweating from the workout. The other kids were skating 2 or 3 hard power laps and then they’d go off for another break. With about 5 minutes left, Mr. McGeachie leaned over again, “Pick it up Russ. 5 more minutes. Skate hard!” My parents were yelling too. It gave me that boost when I needed it most. I put my head down, dug deep, and kept skating. When the horn blew, I came off the ice exhausted, and several parents came up to me to tell me how impressed they were with my efforts. Some of my skating friends did the same. The top team players, for the most part, snickered. When they announced the top 3 winners, and my name was mentioned, their jaws dropped!

The top prizes were a trip to Vancouver to the Aquarium and to see the Vancouver Canucks take on the Hartford Whalers (now the Carolina Hurricanes). This was WAY before Calgary had a team here so everyone was envious of the 3 of us who were going, along with the other 3 for top sponsorship. It was the trip of a lifetime, and one I will never forget.

What did I learn that can be applied to each of us?
1) Times will get tough. Keep going. Keep trying. Keep working on ways to Make It Happen!
2) Avoid The Negativians – there will always be people we run into who say we are not good enough or we’ll never amount to anything. Leave them behind. Prove them wrong.
3) When you reach your goals, remember those who helped you get there and Pay It Forward so others can enjoy success! We all need a boost at times. Please be there for your fellow members.

If you haven’t noticed, I live my life using THREE WORD WISDOMS!
I hope you FIND YOUR PASSION, REACH YOUR GOALS, and CHASE YOUR DREAMS…this year and always!
Russ Dantu