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Moving for Health Boosts Morale for Troops in Afghanistan
A successful walking program in rural Newfoundland celebrates the efforts of what a group of caring individuals can accomplish in a short amount of time. Of course, when that group is called Moving for Health there was never any doubt that we ... click to read moreA successful walking program in rural Newfoundland celebrates the efforts of what a group of caring individuals can accomplish in a short amount of time. Of course, when that group is called Moving for Health there was never any doubt that we would move mountains to make Project Michael a success.
The Moving for Health group meet twice weekly for a walking and exercise program here, in All Hallow's Elementary School's gymnasium. We are a group that has come to care a great deal about one another.
I would like to share with you the origins of Project Michael a little idea that grew!
Before our exercise program took its usual summer hiatus I had a conversation with group member, Rosemary Neil. Rosemary, quietly, told me that her son, Michael, was to be deployed to Afghanistan. Rosemary was naturally fearful and apprehensive but what most impressed me was her strength, conviction, and above all pride in Michael.
I never forgot that conversation, it remained with me throughout the summer months.
When Moving for Health resumed in September I spoke with Rosemary again. By this time, Michael had been in Afghanistan since August 25th.
I was once again impressed by Rosemary's strength.
It had been an idea of mine, from that initial conversation with Rosemary, that our group would want to support her in any way that we could.
I mentioned to Sherry Kennedy - who is one of the group's co-leaders, the fact that Michael was now in Afghanistan.
We both agreed that as a group, Moving for Health would lend our support and show Rosemary that we shared in her love and pride of Michael.
The idea had been formulated and the planning committee had been struck.
Project Michael was born! And Michael became "Our Michael." He may be Rosemary's biological son but we all became his surrogate Mom's that day!
I would be remiss if I didn't tell you a little bit about Michael.
Master Corporal Michael Neil is the son of Rosemary and Wilfred Neil, grandson of Mabel Neil. He was born in Germany, where he lived for the first three years of his life. Michael's father, Wilf, was in the Army himself, so Michael lived and grew up in many of our Canadian provinces.
Michael joined the Armed Forces twice - the first time as a member of the Air Force where he was trained as an Aircraft Electrician. He left after three years.
Six years later, he re-applied as a member of the Army. He was trained as a Fire Control Systems Technician. He has been in the Army in this capacity for the last 13 years and thoroughly loves what he does.
Two years ago, he volunteered for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. On the 25th of August he was deployed to Kandahar.
Our vision for Project Michael was to prepare 10 Morale Packs. We exceeded our goal by filling 24 morale packs. Our support of Michael would be extended to those servicemen and women serving alongside of him. SANTA Michael will distribute Morale Packs to his comrades, and, a Santa hat has been included in Michael's box for that very reason.
In addition to usual items - such as food treats, personal hygiene products, magazines etc., we add other special things to a Morale Pack for "Our Michael," such as a Newfoundland flag signed by all members of the Moving for Health group, a personal Christmas card from us all and without a doubt some extra Purity kisses!
And, we asked the Grade Six students of All Hallow's Elementary to enclose Christmas Cards in the Morale Packs, with messages to our soldiers.
All Hallow's Elementary School Principal, Dr. Kevin Giles, provided us with full support of our Project. We are delighted to have music teacher Linda Mercer and the All Hallows Elementary Choir and Fiddlers join us.
But the planning did not end there.
The Military Family Resource Centre thought that Project Michael was a great idea, not only did they make donations to the Morale Boxes, donate decorations, Tim Horton's coffee and ribbons, they also provided transportation for other families who receive support, to attend Project Michael's festivities.
From the Department of National Defence we are honored to have Lieutenant Commander Garth Taylor and Field Operations Manager Eva Marks-MacIsaac.
As hosts to the MFRC and Staff of the Department of National Defence it was decided that we arrange a social event as well, and we would do so in true Newfoundland fashion by treating them to the hospitality that Newfoundlanders are known for!
We very quickly mobilized and sprung into action.
To formalize this event, we extended invitations to our local MHAs, Roland Butler (Liberal Member for Port de Grave district) and Tom Hedderson (Progressive Conservative Member for Harbour Main district); invitations went out to Members of the Royal Canadian Legion, to our Sponsors, and to our local Community Cable Program - Eastlink' s MY TOWN.
Along about this time we decided to approach the business community for donations to Project Michael and they came through for us generously.
So, as you can see, our Project, "Project Michael" was a little idea that grew!
We owe such tremendous accolades to Sherry Kennedy for that growth! Without her imagination, vision, dedication and boundless energy none of this would have been possible.
Members of our group, Moving for Health, have outdone themselves. The outpouring of kindness and generosity has been overwhelming. The planning committee has had such fun in organizing this event.
Each and every member is to be commended - it is true that there is strength in numbers - and, as I said at the outset we would move mountains to make Project Michael a success - and in my opinion - we did just that!
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made Project Michael such a success," said Rosemary and Wilfred Neil.
What you will see here is the result of hard work by caring individuals who never lost sight of why we were doing what we were doing and that was simply to show Rosemary and Wilfred Neil that we support and care for them, we support and care for "Our Michael" and we support and care for our fellow countrymen and women who are currently serving our country.
We applaud the efforts and bravery of Our Troops.
Written by Wendy Cole
Co-Leader, Moving for Health
It was November 5th 1981 and I was driving from St. John's to Port aux Basques. I was also a new driver, having just got my licence in April of that year. Around noon just outside of Gander my five-month-old car hit ... click to read moreIt was November 5th 1981 and I was driving from St. John's to Port aux Basques. I was also a new driver, having just got my licence in April of that year. Around noon just outside of Gander my five-month-old car hit a rock on the highway and I lost control and went more then 40 feet off the highway. I do not remember anything about the accident; my next memory was around 10 p.m. that night. When I awoke a member of the clergy was standing over my bed praying. I could not talk for about 30 seconds (it seemed like forever) and the Rev. continued praying.
The Lord planted a thought in my head, not only once but three times He said, "You will walk again and this accident happened for a reason." It was like someone had picked up this thought and placed it in my head. When the thought had finally gone through my mind I was able to talk and the Rev. all of a sudden opened his eyes and looked at me.
I told the Rev. that God had just told me that I would walk again and the accident had happened for a reason. He asked what reason could there be for such a terrible accident. I did not know the answer but I just knew there was a reason.
I was in James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander for 5 months and had many injuries. The staff there were the best I have ever had. And of course Dr. A.E. Shapter was my hero.
I was and am able to walk again and I met my future husband in that hospital.
Yes I certanily do beleive in miracles because I am one.
Unusual Encounter Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to take the path through the nearly vacant trail on my walk home from work that day. But I have taken this well-worn path every day for months, daydreaming and imagining myself somewhere else. Wrapped up in the sound of the trees, the birds and the ocean as it kissed the rocky shore, I scarcely noticed much else along the winding path. I'm not really sure when the ... click to read moreMaybe it wasn't such a good idea to take the path through the nearly vacant trail on my walk home from work that day. But I have taken this well-worn path every day for months, daydreaming and imagining myself somewhere else. Wrapped up in the sound of the trees, the birds and the ocean as it kissed the rocky shore, I scarcely noticed much else along the winding path. I'm not really sure when the sudden silence broke my reverie. I suddenly realized I could no longer hear the wind in the trees, the birds, or any other sound for that matter. Peering up through the trees, the clouds seemed to be nearly touching the tops of the pines and oaks. Fog was rolling in fast. Suddenly, I could barely see the footbridge not 20 feet away. Moving slowly forward, I realized it would be very difficult to traverse the narrow footbridge with near zero visibility. Perhaps a good idea would be to retrace my steps to the bench under the old oak tree. Sitting on the little bench, the mist seemed to change colour to a deep gray, as if night had suddenly fallen. As I slowly turned my head to the right in the direction of the footbridge, every nerve in my body began to tingle. I could not believe the sight before me, and I could not suppress the gasp that escaped my now gaping mouth!
The dark figure emerging from the mist seemed to move as if floating just above the ground. But the thing that made my blood run cold was the darkly cloaked entity was faceless. Every instinct screamed, "Run!" But I was rooted to the spot unable to move a muscle. Can one ever know what their reaction will be when faced with their greatest fear? Fear that strikes a chord so deep within your soul that you can't imagine surviving the assault? Here was my worst nightmare. It was the "old hag." But I was awake, so how could this be happening? On this island, everyone knew the stories about "the old hag," and there was a morbid fear of being pursued by this entity. She always approached in your sleep and often there was someone else with you when you had this nightmare. No matter how loudly you thought you were screaming for someone to pull you away from the old hag, they did not hear you. Actually, your screams are mere mumblings. It is said she comes for your soul. If she reaches you before you awaken, she captures your soul and you die. To many it was simply folklore, but to more it was real. In recent years scholars from abroad had studied the phenomenon and found this nightmarish entity to be very real indeed. Was I to be the exception, would she capture my soul even though I was not sleeping and could clearly see her? I could hear a soft footfall now. But the footfall was moving faster than she appeared to be, and it was coming from the other direction. Now I could make out the image of a woman coming through the mist from the direction of town. She was moving towards me at a rapidly accelerating pace. It was Mrs. Beasley, my neighbour.
Screaming, I begged her to help me get away from the entity now only a few feet away. Mrs. Beasley hesitated, and I wondered why she was not frantic with me screaming like this. Couldn't she see the old hag approaching me? Please, please I shouted, pull me away from it! I turned toward the entity, now only inches away. Her gnarled old hand, with long, ragged nails reached out to touch my face. She was going to kill me and I was powerless to stop her icy grip from consuming my soul. The hand that touched me was warm and comforting, and I was looking into the kind and caring face of Mrs. Beasley. "Anna dear, how long have you been asleep on this bench?" She asked. "You know it's past eight o'clock now. I could hear you talking quietly in your sleep as I came down the path. You must have been very tired, because it took me a few minutes to wake you." Words could not describe my feelings at that moment! Mrs. Beasley's smile was that of an angel! Her gentle hand had unknowingly pulled me from the greatest terror I have ever experienced. I was tired on my walk home that day. While waiting for the fog to lift, I sat back listening to the soothing sounds around me. I guess the sounds were more soothing than I realized, for I was lulled into a deep sleep. All seemed well to Mrs. Beasley as she sat next to me on the little bench. She could not understand my heartfelt gratitude for awakening me. What she did notice was my pale face, and wide eyes.
I never told a soul of my encounter, until now. This experience was a nightmare, or was it?
A Miracle Baby Here is my story of my little life miracle: It was a regular Sunday night and my boyfriend and I were sitting down in the living room having a chat and watching the television before we went to bed early because we had to get up in the morning to go to work. I was woken up at 2 a.m. with pains in my stomach; I walked around our little apartment wondering why the pain ... click to read moreHere is my story of my little life miracle: It was a regular Sunday night and my boyfriend and I were sitting down in the living room having a chat and watching the television before we went to bed early because we had to get up in the morning to go to work. I was woken up at 2 a.m. with pains in my stomach; I walked around our little apartment wondering why the pain would not go away. By 6 a.m. I woke up my boyfriend and told him "I am having pain and it won't go away. I need to go to the hospital, I don't know what is happening to me." So we started to get ready to head out towards the Janeway but before we made it out the door, the worst pain I ever had in my life came over me, and in our little apartment on the floor, I gave birth to our little miracle boy. We called 911 and they came to our apartment within less than two minutes, to make sure our little baby was doing ok and that I was doing fine. We rode off in the ambulance towards the Janeway where the baby and I were taken very good care of. Our little miracle boy weighed in at 4 lbs, 1 oz. He is a very healthy boy, who today is four months old and makes every day a special day. Before that day, I did not believe in miracles and I sure didn't believe in guardian angels, but from that day on and going forward, I do. If there wasn't a guardian angel watching down on us that morning, I don't know where or what would have happened to me or our little miracle boy. And to this day I still tell my story of how it came that our miracle boy came into this world. ... Hide full submission