An excerpt from Bill Overend’s WFT 2014 Speech

Your neighbour and mine Thomas Mueller was diagnosed while he was still three and he was seven years old when he lost his fight September 30, 2011.

I will never forget the moment I had to tell that news to my own boy and our tears as we drove to hockey practice not knowing what to do except going about our lives and pretending that everything was still the same.

Time passes and you get over certain things. And I need to tell you that every fall a couple of things happen to prove that his spirit is alive and well.

First off his school stages a Terry Fox Run every September, and, three years later, the Grade 5/6s are still writing on their stickers that they are running for Thomas.

Thomas was an exceptionally high-energy boy and I think all those mentions of him rouse his spirit in all of us.

Then, about a week ago, as I was out for a run myself, all these pictures of him began to enter my head. It happened up on Crescent Heights and it was like he was right alongside me, and I realized I was crying while I was running.

As we jogged, he pointed out his alternative future – what it would have been like had he beaten neuroblastoma.

He still loves his Lego collection, still loves Harry Potter too, but, after all, he would be 10 now and things would be a little different:

• He might be in Amy Ward’s Gr 5/6 class at the school, alongside all his pals.
• He would have built a robotics collection and love it just as much as his Lego now.
• He would be big into karate, or minor hockey, he’s Atom age now, he would have been getting a lot bigger as he left neuroblastoma in the dust and he would be wanting them to let bodychecking back in because he so loves the physical stuff.
• He wouldn’t even have to tell me he’d be into Minecraft and playing a lot of XBOX til 2 in the morning on sleepovers with his friends.
• He would NOT YET have any interest in kissing a girl!
• But he would know very clearly what he was going to do when he grew up:
o Go to medical school and then help Dr. Beaudry find a cure for all the rest of these childhood cancers.
o Marry a girl who is just as beautiful (but maybe not quite as crazy) as his sister.
o Have his own kids and eventually grandkids and love them as much as Phil and Di love him.

And then like the leaves that whirl and swirl this time of year, he is off, and I’m left on the path with only lyrics in my head, and this year (with apologies to iSH and Stef Lang), they were:

Nothing is stopping me now
Ain’t nothing bringing me down
And I don’t care what they say
Can’t nobody get in my way

This life is short so I’m seizing the day

Ain’t counting the days
But I’m making the days count

I’m rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
Down the road, there ain’t no stopping me
Can’t put nothing in my way
I’m a keep rollin’ to a brighter day

For Thomas and for ourselves, now it’s time to seize that brighter day: let’s stand tall and walk strong.

-Bill Overend

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