If you are familiar with my story, you know that my 17-year-old son Tristan has Muscular Dystrophy, an illness that keeps him 99% physically dependent on others; it’s a tough station, and one that he handles with humor, dignity and courage. As a dad I couldn’t be prouder of him and the way he carries himself. (If you don’t know my story, feel free to click the “my story” tab at the top of the home page)
Like most teenagers, Tristan (or “T” for short) loves music and listens to his iPod library of classic rock tunes (everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Red Hot Chili Peppers) but if he really likes them, will make an exception and listen to a more current band, Cold play being a prime example. So when I heard that Chris and the boys were coming to Vancouver for a concert, I knew no matter what, I had to get T to that show, which would also be his first ever concert.
Putting all the Pieces of the Puzzle Together
Since tickets to an event like this are often sold out within minutes of going on sale, securing them is usually a major challenge in itself; however, fortunately for us, when I called at 10:01 am (the minute after they went on sale) there were some still available in the “player’s box” which it turns out (when not in use for hockey games) doubles as the “wheelchair access only” section! Cool! So, with a mere $263.40 dent in the visa later, we were on our way!
For most people, the purchase of the tickets means that pretty much 90% of the work is done; for those in wheelchairs and in need complete care, it’s just the beginning of a mass scale logistical operation, the next step being finding suitable overnight accommodation. Whereas most folks either book a hotel room or exchange beers for couch surfing, these aren’t options available for us, because (a) T can’t afford to pay in beer, and (b) he needs specialized equipment (commodes, lifts, slings, etc.) to get in and out of bed, using the bathroom, etc. However we are very, very fortunate that we can call on the good folks at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice (as always) to help us out by putting us up and ensuring that all T’s needs are taken care of. Let me say that the nursing staff were the real lynchpins that made this operation work~ Thanks Ladies; we couldn’t have done it without you! And so, step 2 was complete.
With tickets and accommodation taken care of, next up was the transportation – both to the mainland (since we live on an island) and then eventually to the venue. Getting over to Vancouver was a no brainer; living on an island meant taking the ferry and we chose to take our (handicapped) van over (Return trip, around $130) to get downtown quickly. This was great for phase one, but we also knew there was no way we could drive the van to the concert since parking such a vehicle is next to impossible on a non-event day, let alone when there are 16,000 people at a concert. So we decide on “Plan B”, or “Plan Bus” as it should be called.
I knew getting downtown would be easy, because it would be early and light out; it was getting back that I was concerned about, since the concert wouldn’t end until around 11 p.m. and I was unfamiliar with the late night transit options in the strange city. Planning ahead, I called the transit authority and asked what our options were, and I have to say, and they were awesome in helping me! The operator listened carefully to all my concerns (strange city, youth in wheelchair, late night, etc.) and then gave me several options to choose from; heck, once she was done she even emailed them to my inbox to spare me from having to write it all down!
I Googled all the options and it turned out if we walked 6 blocks after the concert we could take a single bus (the # 22, running every 12 minutes until 1am) we’d get off 2 blocks from Canuck Place; could it be any easier that that? Once again, an unexpected angel had come to our aid to help make our odyssey run a bit smoother; and upon hanging up the phone, I realized hurdle # 3 had officially been crossed! With tickets, accommodation and all transportation secured, it was time for the 2nd best part of the experience, which was the unveiling the adventure to T! I taped a copy of the ticket to the back of the new Cold Play disc, (Mylo Xyloto) and it was the very last present to be opened Christmas morning.
Upon unwrapping the C.D., T politely said “Thank-You” still unaware of the “bonus” hiding on the flipside. I said “There’s more” and helped him turn it over the disc for the big reveal. All of a sudden his eyes got huge and his voice boomed: Oh Wow; “THANK YOU!” he bellowed out loud, barely believing what he was seeing! He was so excited that, once all the presents were opened and Paula and I were settling in with our morning coffee, he sped to his Facebook page and posted: “OMG – I got Cold Play Tickets!!” Clearly, all the hurdles and challenges faced to arrange this gift were well worth the reward of this moment…
The Final Result; or “What an Achieved Goal Looks Like for Me”4 months later (Thanks to great planning and a few angels) the concert went off without a hitch! We caught an early ferry to the mainland and checked into Canuck Place; then, after a lunch of sliders and iced tea we enjoyed a sunny stroll along Vancouver’s beautiful harbor front eventually winding up at the concert venue and found our seats.
The show itself was beyond amazing; our “player’s box” seats had us within a few meters of the band at times, and were elevated enough so the T could see over the jumping-up-and-down-fist pumping-crowd who was brought to their feet the moment Cold play hit the stage. It was a wonderful, incredible assault on all our senses, and looking over at Tristan’s wide-eyed sense of it as he took in all of it, the crowd, the band, the environment, the music, the energy, I knew in that very moment that I was tasting true success. Life is good!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? You be the judge!
Do you remember a time you fought through obstacles to achieve a worthy goal? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!