It was another huge undertaking. We had no monetary sponsors, we had limited resources, but we had a venue and an opportunity to deliver thanks to VIMFF. We worked hard with what we had and we put on a show that left our first show in its dust.
The night began with a Capoeira act put on by Axe Capoeira Vancouver. Julie Ali and her team of 15 astounded the audience with their acrobatics and agility. From the 4 or 5 year old boy whose solo effort made the audience smile to the lightning fast legs of the older performers whose action made the crowd gasp, the entire performance had everyone in the building feeling inspired. And that’s how the night began…
Our Master of Ceremonies, the laughable Brett Tippie took the stage and quickly introduced Hayley Shephard our first speaker. Hayley spoke about her journey to the solo paddle around the island of South Georgia. Her story highlighted that we can achieve FEATs not only in success but also in failure. As Hayley explained how her adventure was fraught with disaster from the beginning she explained how we can all turn a “failure” into a success simply by looking at the achievements along the way.
Next up, Michael Schratter from Ride Don’t Hide discussed his adventures as he rode 40,000 kilometers around the world raising awareness for mental disorders. He explained his highs and lows and shared some fabulous photos from the never-ending sun in Norway to the jam-packed towns in Asia. Michael shared with the audience the lesson that anybody can do anything and we need to speak up for ourselves instead of being “shunned” by society.
The third speaker of the event was Anders Ourom. Anders has been climbing for 40 years and even though he didn’t know why he was invited to speak, it was apparent very quickly that his wit and charm would have the crowd laughing for the entire 7 minutes. A self-processed geek he explained how he got in to climbing and how some of his efforts built the climbing community in the Squamish area and how he successfully fought against the building of a gondola to the top of the chief. Anders was modest the entire night, but he was a true example of how anyone can achieve a FEAT if they step a little bit out of their comfort zone.
Shawn Leclair was the final speaker of the first half and she explained how she wasn’t an Olympian, she wasn’t a record holder and if you googled her you probably wouldn’t find her there either. Rather, she was an “ordinary” girl, with a huge heart full of determination, who was able to conquer some pretty amazing FEATs in the past 10 years simply by persevering. She explained how she may not be beating the people on the podium but how simply by being involved she is beating EVERYONE on the couch. It was an inspiring talk that motivated the audience to get off their butts and be active.
After the intermission Ryan Leech began the second half, not by talking about his FEATs or his amazing abilities on the bike. Instead he opened up speaking about perspective in sports and why some athletes do what they do and how on many occasions they lose who they are in the pursuit of “happiness” and success in their sport. He spoke about how if we lose awareness of our roots and who we are we can become something that we are not. It was a treat to have someone with such a high profile bring us all back down to earth.
Next up we had Ryan Pogue. Ryan explained his love of the water, the ocean and of canoeing. He told a story about how he has been able to turn his passion for the water into a full time “job” even though he’s living his dream. He let the audience know how if they follow their dreams and passions that doors and opportunities will open up and they too can be living a fulfilling life. He was truly grateful of what he’s been able to do on and off the water and if he’s inspired even one person in the audience that he knows he’s had a successful evening.
The final of three women, Mandy-Rae Krack spoke next about her tales of being a world class free-diver. She took us to depths of 100s of feet as she recounted the stories of her various world record attempts and successes. An Alberta born gal, she explained how she also followed her passion into the water and how she was a part of the Hollywood documentary, “The Cove”, to now owning and operating her own freediving school. The audience was in awe with the abilities of Mandy-Rae and how she was able to hold her breath for so long!
Ryley Breiddal was the second last speaker on the evening and he recounted his two trips from Canada to Mexico hiking 4000+ kilometers along the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He explained the way his mind had to stay so focused on the map when the trail disappeared and he explained the awe of the solitude on the trail, sometimes not running into anyone for days and weeks. It was a real treat to see a “regular” person pursue his dreams and go beyond several boundaries to discover his true self.
The night finished up with Extreme Back Country Skier JD Hare. JD recounted his story of skiing Mount Tantalus. The story had the audience gripped as he attempted to find rappel points in the middle of the night in the freezing cold as he lay perched in the middle of a cliff looking for somewhere, anywhere to plant a stake. His thoughts drifted between urgency and his family. He explained how you’re not necessarily your true self unless you’re living on the edge. He finished up recounting about how he just couldn’t find anywhere to place a stake and he was thinking of his baby and his wife and if he’d ever see them again. He asked himself, “Why do I do this?”, especially with so much on the line. And his response was simply, because “I love this shit!”. What a way to end a speech!
The night truly was a fantastic night. Each speaker was different, each had a different tale to tell. We were truly blessed to find such amazing individuals. Videos and pictures will be posted soon.