Great Big Home Town Hug....Thank you Windsor...


Every night before I go to bed, my mind spins & spins about what I need to blog about, wondering where in the world, I will find time to actually put what's in my heart to "paper", if you will...


My husband constantly tells me my mind is like confetti blowing up with ideas, thoughts & dreams all the time. And while I agree with him, it's at night laying there, that the confetti seems to go wild - I mean I have blogs brewing all the way back from September that I want to still share, words I want to get out, stories I want to tell and moments that are important...But it seems the last few months have blurred by in a whirl of trips, tears and talks...


The past few months were filled with numerous road trips to Windsor, one including my best friend's little boy's funeral, so you can just imagine the tears involved there...But the visit before that one was actually quite special because I got to see him outside of the hospital, we even got to hang out with him on Halloween...Oh Halloween, you special, magical night you...

On this same visit I got to experience what I can only describe as a city "hugging" you...For two days we held fundraisers for Happy Soul Project and to feel the love that follows Pip & what we are doing, was utterly, uplifting...And to be honest just what I seemed to need...

I will for once, take a rest and let the pictures and words of others tell the story...But huge thank you's first to: 

  • Denise Cassidy & the Belle River TD Bank who organized an amazing fundraiser, got over 100 Kick-It-Capes, sponsored an outrageously fun night at Mr. Biggs with the band SieraSlave and went above and beyond...
  • Andrew & Karen from Group Hug Apparel who I was overjoyed to finally meet after corresponding for over a year. What an inspiring duo...
  • Margaret and her staff at Sweetheart Baby Boutique who threw just about the sweetest day ever for us - Opening her doors so that others could come out and meet us was so very generous and I'm so very grateful...
  • Kerry Trepanier Photography for coming & capturing both events so candidly - I'm in love with your photos. 
  • My friends & family who helped out whether that was folding shirts, making sure I drank water or beer, face painted, helped take care of my hooligans or simply came out to give me a hug. 
  • And every person far & wide who came to meet and support us...You coming gave such validation to what we are trying to do at Happy Soul Project...It lifted me up, more than you'll ever know. 

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By Stephanie Renaud

On a cold Saturday afternoon at Sweetheart Diapers in Pillette Village, something beautiful happened.  Dozens of people from the community came out to support Tara McCallan and her radiant daughter, the beloved "Pip" as she is so affectionately known. 
Tara and Pip's journey started not even two years ago with the birth of this beautiful soul.  Like any of us, Tara was not prepared for the diagnosis of Down's Syndrome that would closely follow.  Initially devastated, Tara's bold, brave spirit has led her to rise to the occasion with grace and courage that has inspired and touched so many lives.   
Originally from WIndsor, Tara seized the moment and created Happy Soul Project to celebrate the message that "Different is Beautiful".  At first through her blog and then through Facebook she reached out to the world, courageously sharing her story so that people might understand, and so that others in her shoes might not feel so terribly alone.  Little did she know that it would resonate so strongly with so many people. 
Here in Windsor, that Saturday afternoon it was clear that the message had been received.  The small storefront of Sweetheart Diapers burst at the seems with all manner of people, men, women and children of all ages.  Everyone was there to celebrate Tara and Pip's message and maybe get a hug from the little dynamo herself.  
The Project has many facets, including Happy Soul Project Apparel, the "Different is Beautiful" Calendar, the "Kick it" capes to encourage children who are struggling, along with many other initiatives and projects already in motion.  It's not just about Down's Syndrome either.  This message resonates with all people, and families that recognize something in themselves that makes them different - diabetes, learning disabilities, cancer, glasses, autism, adhd, all manner of behavioural diagnoses, skin colour..... if it makes you different, this message is meant for you.  
After the event had finished, Tara said that she felt like it was "a great big hug from the community."  This is what she takes away.  Not the number of shirts she sold, not the number of people who came, but the energy of the whole experience.  To feel as though she has been put upon this path and that it continues to resonate with so many and gain momentum everyday.  This is what fuels her journey. 
It is worth noting here that since this event took place another beautiful miracle unfolded in the face the tragedy and suffering.  Upon the loss of her best friends son Maisyn to cancer, the community in Windsor again rose to the call and provided "Kick it" capes for an entire family, as well as the staff of the funeral home that housed the celebration of this little boys life.  On a days notice.  The heroism and selfless service that has arisen through this project is and continues to be deeply awe inspiring.  
Visit Kerry Trepanier Photographer HERE to see full albums of events
As Happy Soul moves into the future Tara envisions touching more lives in more ways through more initiatives including (but by no means limited to) work program for disabled individuals,  speaking engagements, and perhaps someday, writing a book. 

Celebrate the message. 

Different IS beautiful. 

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So, like I said, it felt like one big hug - Thank you Windsor - You are a good Home Town.

Till the next time Windsor....

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