Goosebumps. All. Day. Long.

On the way to the Main Library of Toledo Lucas County Public Library system this past Saturday morning, I enjoyed taking in the scene along the Maumee River. It was a bit cloudy, but the sun was trying to poke out. Then, with a burst of radiance, beams from the sun cleared through the grey skies, shining down onto the river.

I turned to Brad and said, “Check it out…heaven’s rays.”

I knew then that our 22nd annual Claire’s Day, the celebration of our little reader gone too soon would be an excellent day.

The Main Library in downtown Toledo was jammin’ that morning, an electrified excitement bouncing off the walls and shelves.

A year of planning by our Read for Literacy/Claire’s Day team led to this day. Months of working through the myriad of details, and thousands of emails to all of our partners…sponsors, schools,  and collaborators brought us to this point.

A week’s worth of visits to twenty area school partners by our guest authors and illustrators contributed to the excitement.

It was time.

I had the pleasure of serving as the hostess of several C.A.R.E. Award (Claire’s Award for Reading Excellence) ceremonies that morning. Before bestowing special recognition to the most improved readers from various schools in the greater Toledo area, I spoke a bit about our journey.

I talked about Claire and her love of reading. I talked about our family and our desire to honor her in a way that was true to her. And I talked about those heaven’s rays on the way to the library.

Then we announced the students’ names, and each of the award winners received a personalized certificate and a coupon to choose their very own book from the selection written or illustrated by our guest authors and artists. Each child came up to the stage, some shy, not necessarily used to the experience of being recognized for academic achievement, and got their packet. With huge smiles, they gave high-fives to the many teachers from their schools lending support.

Afterward, a father came up to me and shared that he took a picture with his son proudly showing his certificate, in front of the photo of Claire we had up on stage.

As he handed his phone to me, this big, strong guy had tears in the corners of his eyes. As I looked at the picture, I understood why. There, in the background, with a streak of sun across her picture, Claire glowed in the background.


It was the first of many goosebumps moments I experienced throughout Claire’s Day Toledo.

Parents hugging me in gratitude.

Random kids coming up and hugging me from behind, just like Claire used to do.

Teachers we’ve seen year after year, offering their gratitude for what we do for their students. One teacher told me, “This is my favorite day of the year!”

Throughout the day, Brad and I connected, holding hands, sneaking a kiss, and sharing stories together.

Claire wouldn’t have had it any other way.