“You’ve created a life event for children.”
These incredible words came from Linda Feagler, the Senior Editor at Ohio Magazine. Linda was in my adopted hometown of Maumee yesterday, meeting with business owners, seeing historic sites, and generally rediscovering why our city is so special.
I was asked to meet with her to share our Claire’s Day story, and the amazing growth of the organization and event. I was joined by Jeanette Hrovatich, our Executive Director, and John Jezak, the Administrator and Safety Director for Maumee.
When Linda made this statement regarding our C.A.R.E. Awards, our special reading awards given to children chosen as the most improved readers in their schools, we all just looked at her, stunned by the strength of her statement.
“Life event. I like that,” Jeanette said.
I do too. So much so, that of course, I had to write about it.
No matter how much time has passed, it is still a little hard to tell the story. But every time I do, I get a little nugget of admiration, of inspiration, of gratitude that carries me through the tough parts.
Sometimes I lose sight of the impact we’ve had on children’s lives through Claire’s Day and our Claire’s Awards for Reading Excellence program. At times it is even difficult for me to comprehend the significance of what we’ve accomplished; Brad, Kyle, Ian and our hundreds of volunteers, and now staff. I tend to downplay our magical remembrance, honestly humbled by what we’ve created in Claire’s honor.
And then, with words like Linda’s, it smacks me upside the head and strikes right to my heart.
What we’ve done has had such an impact on the lives of thousands of children. We have created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our C.A.R.E. Award winners. To think that they get to choose their very own book at the festival, and then to have it personally signed by one of our authors and illustrators. That’s just pretty darn special.
And now, having been that author on the other side of the table, as that child looks at me with huge eyes filled with joy, excitement, and sometimes a bit of shyness, well, that’s a life event for me.