The Story Behind the Photo
Award Winning Author - Kamal Al-Solaylee
When Clara Hughes steps in the room there is no mistaking it. She is tall, fit and has a smile that will light up the room. If there is still any doubt whether it really is her then her beautiful red hair will assure you it truly is Clara.
The first time I met Clara Hughes was at the 2016 taping of Canada Reads. She was one of five panelists and was defending Lawrence Hill’s book The Illegal. Clara came prepared as her book was peppered with yellow posted notes attached throughout the pages. When she spoke it was with passion and conviction. Not only was her defense based on passages in the book, but she was able to intertwine her own personal story into her defense. It was not at all surprising when The Illegal won Canada Reads 2016.
At the end of each day's taping most of the panelist would stick around to meet members of the audience. It was on the second day of the competition that I got to meet Clara. At 5’9” she already towers over me, add heels and she is that much taller. However, when we had our picture taken you would never know there was such a height difference between us.
A few months later it was announced that Clara Hughes would be the speaker for the June Callwood lecture series at the Appel Salon (Toronto Reference Library). Not only is Clara an Olympian who has won six medals between the summer and winter Olympics, but she was also a national spokesperson for Bell Let's Talk Day and an advocate for mental health. In her book Open Heart Open Mind, she talks very candidly about her struggles with depression and the journey she has travelled. When she spoke that evening at the Appel she spoke with such raw emotion. At the end of her lecture she told everyone in the crowd that regardless if they had purchased her book they could come and say hi and get a hug. Since that evening I have spoken to several people who were there that night, and all agreed she was outstanding. They also recall her telling the crowd that it was not necessary that they purchased a book in order to come and say hi and get a hug. Obviously, an impactful moment for many.
I had purchased her book, so I lined up with the others to get it signed and with those in hope of a hug. Along with my book I had printed out the picture taken of the two of us at Canada Reads to also get it signed. When it was my turn Clara said she remembered me but apologized for not remembering my name. That was okay since I wasn't sure I had even told her my name before. She gladly signed both my book and add a special note when she signed my picture. Although I didn't get a hug, we did have another picture taken together.
Clara Hughes is not only an outstanding athlete but also a phenomenal woman. I am absolutely thrilled I've had the opportunity of meeting her not once but twice.
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Coming soon to The Story Behind the Photo is Bobby Orr, Mitch Albom, Kamal Al-Solaylee, Beverly McLachlin, Diana Galbaldon, Terry Fallis, Judy Blume, Bryan Baeumler, Carol Shields (Anne and Nicholas Giardini), Nino Ricci, Kim Thuy, Ami McKay, Joseph Boyden, Elizabeth Strout and many more.
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My name is Faith Van Wart, I’m a Personal Photo Organizer and a member of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers). I help people organize their digital and printed photos so they can begin to tell the stories behind their photos.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet some interesting people and wanted to begin to share those photos and the stories behind them. I hope you enjoy them.
As the old saying goes every picture tells a story. If your photos could talk what stories would they tell?