“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Today, I had one of those moments.
It’s hard for me to describe what happened to me last week but it’s worth a shot.
Every Friday, I will be participating as a volunteer in a free ice skating instruction program for blind students, called Stride to Succeed. Last Friday was my first session. I walked into the arena, which is normally familiar territory to me, and, for the first time in my life, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not going to lie… I was intimidated. I have done a lot of volunteer work before but never with anyone who couldn’t see me, and the thought of that initially made me feel a little uncomfortable.
I hopped on the ice and took a moment, looked around, and realized that these kids were amazing and fearless.
We began to skate together. Still feeling out of my element, I began skating with one of the students, a 20 year old participant, who was my partner in the first exercise. She has been a part of the program for 5 years and was extremely proud to share that information with me right away. We were face-to-face and hand-to-hand, and she was using my hands as balance. She had to push me using her skating stride and without knowing how I was looking at her; her smile, laughter and sense of freedom was remarkable. As we went from one end of the rink to the other, I had her try to slam me against the boards to create a loud noise at the end, knowing it would make her laugh and so that she would have the opportunity to know what kind of person I am…a joker.
After the exercise was over, I partnered up with a different student. We began talking and, after we introduced ourselves to one another, he asked me if I liked the Habs. Right away I knew this kid and I would get along. I literally talked about the Montreal Canadiens with him for 20 minutes; he was a huge fan. He was skating fluidly because of the conversation, and the comfort and trust he had in my voice. The way he skated harder and the way he got to know me was by listening to my voice and it was incredible to see first hand. I was skating backwards the whole time we were talking. I would distance myself from him at times, so he would skate faster towards me; he was able to go faster by continuing to engage in our conversation and following the sound of my voice. P.S. The conversation was mostly about PK Subban and how SICK he is.
After the program was over and it was time to get off the ice, the students went into the locker room with smiles from ear to ear. I have never been so shocked and impressed with a group of kids. They literally went skating for an hour not being able to see a thing. I still couldn’t grasp what just happened. When I said goodbye and see you next week, they all screamed back with GOODBYE JEREMY!!! I couldn’t help but smile, and I truly felt a sense of gratitude and appreciation. The sense of trust was indescribable. I left feeling incredibly inspired.