In May of 2014, I was amazed to learn that I was a finalist for the Canadian Living Me to We Awards. I was even more surprised to discover in June that I’d won the Youth In Action category!! We had to keep quiet about the award until the October issue of Canadian Living came out (boy, was that a hard secret to keep) but over the summer I did interviews with the reporter from the magazine and had a professional photo shoot!
As soon as I discovered that I’d won the award, I knew that Dan had to come with me. There was no way I would have even had a chance to win it without his support. So on October 1st, we flew to Toronto for We Day!
It was an amazing experience. Canadian Living had sent a limo to the airport to pick us up! They put us up in a hotel downtown. The only downer was that our flight was delayed so we missed the Evening of Champions dinner. We landed and went straight to the rehearsal night at the Air Canada Centre. It was surreal. We were escorted to the Green Room where there was a private chef cooking up food for the performers. We got to meet the other winners. While we were in the Green Room performers like R5 circulated in and out of the room. Then we got to go watch the rehearsal and we had a surprise. Kendrick Lamar was the secret guest performer and we were there right in time to see his rehearsal. We had to keep it a secret and not take any photos but it was pretty cool.
Then I had to go with my fellow winners onto the stage to practice accepting our awards. After that we went back to our hotel and tried to sleep, which was pretty much impossible.
We had to be up super early the next morning because I had to get to the event early as I had to go on the red carpet with the other winners. Then we ended up in a private suite to watch the show. The rest of the day went by in a blur. Being on stage, receiving my award and the after party. It was so much fun!
Dan and I still had more exciting things planned for Toronto though (it was our first trip there!). The next day we went to Ripley’s Aquarium and then to the CN Tower. And on our last morning we toured the University of Toronto’s campus. It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip.
It was such an honour to win this award. And a bit weird to see myself in a magazine!
We were a bit excited on our way to the airport even though it was early!
Having a quick bite to eat before going to the rehearsal.
Our backstage passes!
The stage at We Day Toronto 2014.
My fellow award winners. What an amazing and inspiring group of people.
We got to meet so many cool people. Here we are talking to Dave Cuddy and his partner Robin Alexander. Dave’s organization Education is Power Africa provides funding to students in East Africa.
We got to meet Neverest!
Having some lunch during We Day in our suite. Thanks Canadian Living!
There we are … on stage!
That’s me (Caitie) on stage at We Day. So surreal!
I still can’t believe I got to meet Kardinal Offishall!
Marc Kielburger was so nice. He came up to the suite to meet us and was so encouraging!
Presenting with my official award. I think Dan was more excited than me!
I was feeling quite sick as the day wore on. We got to the after party early and I had to sit down right away. But then one of my all time heroes, Spencer West, came in. He talked to us and even posed for a picture. Talk about a dream come true!
We got to meet Craig Kielburger! He even danced with us! What a great guy.
So happy at the after party. What a great way to end the day!
Breakfast before we explore Toronto!
We are fish people.
We couldn’t resist the kiddy tube. 🙂
We are kids.
Dan and I both love aquariums and fishies.
The CN Tower.
Sitting on the glass floor of the CN Tower!
It was so windy up there!
On our way to the University of Toronto we stopped for a photo op.
University of Toronto
Dan was really excited to find a Krispy Kreme!
Tired but happy on our limo ride back to Pearson International to go home.
Poutine at Pearson International! A great way to end our trip.
Dan and I did so many things in 2014! I haven’t been very good at updating our website though – we were just too busy.
I’m creating a series of photo-stories to share with you about all the great opportunities we had last year. From hosting our own gala to attending the Pipeline Conference to presenting at the Canadian Student Leadership Conferences to attending We Days Toronto & Vancouver to Epilepsy Awareness Day in Disneyland to doing my first TedX Talk, it was an amazing fall. And that fall just ended an amazing year in general!
It was also pretty tough juggling school work and all that travel (and I’ve been trying to catch up every since). But we had so many amazing opportunities to talk about epilepsy with so many different people. It was really inspiring to talk to others who are dealing with epilepsy in their lives.
We also got to see a lot of new places and learn how to travel together! Don’t worry we are still best friends. 😉
We also started a new initiative in September of 2014: the Youth Empowerment Project. The goal of that group is to help other young people use their passions to make positive change in the world! You can keep up-to-date on that project at http://yepnow.org.
I hope you enjoy seeing all the amazing things we did last year. 2015 is going to be just as awesome!
We had the opportunity to host a round table session at the Canadian Student Leadership Conference in Kelowna. We had originally planned to go to the conference for the whole week but in BC our teachers were on strike for the start of school and the strike was resolved the week the conference started. With 3 weeks already gone from our Grade 11 year, we couldn’t afford to miss what was the first week of classes. We still were able to attend the conference for the weekend and I had the opportunity to spend a morning at the conference with DASH BC earlier in the week. In 2015 we plan to attend the whole conference! It was amazing!
Found our table!
This was the first conference that we officially presented at. To say we were excited is an understatement!
Dan and I had been planning the trip to San Francisco for the Pipeline Conference for months. Everything came together for us. We had all our things packed, the Centre for Epilepsy & Seizure Education was sponsoring part of our trip and we were keen to meet others who were living with epilepsy. Then the night before we were set to go, the unthinkable happened: Dan’s appendix ruptured. He had to have emergency surgery and I had to go on our trip without him!
The conference was very cool. I got to meet a ton of scientists, doctors, experts and families all with the common interest of epilepsy. It was a bit boring (not many young people at the conference) but also educational.
The rest of the trip to San Francisco was pretty cool. I’d never been there and Dan & I had planned to go to most of the major sites. It was weird going without him but I still had a good time and took lots of pictures so I could tell Dan all about it when I got home.
We had our new EAS shirts ready to pack.
Photo shoot we took the night before Dan got sick (just 2 days before we were scheduled to leave).
Dan messaged me the morning of the trip and told me I had to go even without him!
I went to Alcatraz!
Dan told me I had to go to all the places we planned to visit. So off I went to the aquarium.
The conference hotel was amazing!
Setting up our EAS table at the Pipeline conference.
Taking in a session.
New location for our table at the conference.
I was on the ketogenic diet when I was at the conference. The scientist who created this device for recording my ketones can be seen in the background.
San Fran had some amazing views and restaurants.
We started planning for Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland when I got back (Dan was still in the hospital!).
In 2013, we were a pretty regular feature at the Community Market in Penticton. But 2014 was a very busy year and we didn’t do as many markets as we would have liked. There were a few reasons for this. First, we had a lot of trips planned (both for the EAS and for other commitments). Second, Dan was working full-time for our awesome local bakery, True Grains. Luckily the bakery always has a booth at the market, so Dan was still able to visit on his breaks!
Caitie all set up at the market.
Enjoying the beautiful Penticton weather.
All ready for customers.
During slow times Caitie liked to take sneaky pictures of Dan working at the bakery truck across the street from the EAS booth.
Our amazing friend (and fellow epilepsy warrior) Natasha came and helped out one weekend!
Our MP, Dan Albas, came and hung out with Caitie one weekend.
Dan spent his breaks working at the EAS booth (doesn’t that mean he didn’t get any breaks?).
We came up with the idea for a Gala in the fall of 2013. By December of 2013, we had secured a venue (the lovely Sumac Ridge Golf Course in Summerland) and started to send out invites. The night was an amazing success. We raised over $2000 for epilepsy programs in British Columbia and Sierra Leone.
Planning a Gala was Exhausting
The fabulous poster we created for our event!
Goodies for the grab bags! Thanks Me to We!
Picking up the talent at the airport: sisters Renee Clark (Photographer) & Alannah Clark (Musician)
Goody bags all ready to go for our guests!
Practicing our speeches
The program we created for the evening.
Going over the silent auction items.
Double checking on rehearsal night.
Appreciating Alannah & her music.
Comedy relief courtesy of Matt on rehearsal night.
Folding, stuffing and preparing the programs.
Dan finishing up the Mystery Prize bags on the morning of the Gala.
All the balloons we blew up!
Our crew at the venue
Set up at the venue.
The girls having a bit of fun.
Some of the people who made the night such a success.
Sylvia & her mum enjoying the evening.
Our wonderful guests.
Dan visiting with our MP Dan Albas & his dad Grant Nixon.