If you are familiar with my story, you know that my 16 year old son Tristan has Duchene, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy that keeps him physically dependant on others for everything he needs; it’s a tough station that he handles with dignity and courage, and 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 his iPod and listens to music on it for hours on end, favouring classic rock tunes from the 60’s and 70’s over the sugary pop and dance music his dad forces him to listen to driving home from school each day- we do love to battle over our radio stations! T’s musical taste is a strict diet of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Doors, but on occasion he’ll make the odd exception and listen to a more current band if he really likes them, 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 it took or cost, I had to get T to that show.
Putting all the Pieces of the Puzzle Together
Securing tickets to an epic musical event like this is usually enough of a major challenge on it’s own since they’re often sold out within minutes of going on sale; 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 doubles as the “wheelchair access only” during concerts when not in use for hockey games, and so a mere $263.40 dent in the visa later, and we were on our way!
For most people, the purchase of a concert ticket 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, beginning with an overnight accommodation.
Whereas most folks either book a hotel room or couch surf at friends places, these aren’t options available to us since T needs specialized equipment (commodes, lifts, slings, etc) for getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, etc; fortunately the good folks at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice (as always) came to the rescue and agreed to put us both up for the night ensuring that all his “special” needs would be taken care of. The nurses were the real lynchpins that made this operation work~ Thanks Ladies; we couldn’t have done it without you!
With tickets and accommodation taken care of next up was the transportation issues, 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 it downtown that night 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 decided to suck it up and take the local city bus to and from the event, a decision that brought it’s own challenges…
I knew getting downtown would be easy, because it would be early and light out; it was getting back to CP that I was concerned about, since the show didn’t end until around 11 pm and I was unfamiliar with the late night transit options in the strange city. I contacted the transit authority a few days before we left 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 all the writing!
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 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; 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, 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 cd 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 intoCanuck Place; then, after a lunch of sliders and iced tea we enjoyed a sunny stroll alongVancouver’s beautiful harbour 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!
Readers: Have you ever had a goal that constantly presented unexpected challenges or hurdles to cross, but you refused to give up because the reward was too big to give up on? Please let us know, we’d love to hear your stories!