For the past 20 years, Brian and I have had the privilege of calling Merritt home. What makes the Nicola Valley great is the people who live here. The beautiful hills and great climate attracted us, but the friendly people were really what made it something special. When we came to check out Merritt during the hot summer of 1992—in our blue un-airconditioned "2SNEES" Tercel—our first stop was the Canada Cafe where Branda and Simon's smiles and great food made us feel so welcome. Next, we popped in to the Chamber of Commerce, where Henny Stonehouse halted her day and closed the office to give us a personal tour around town—in her own air-conditioned car no less!
Over the years, our great friends and neighbours, our wonderful patients and amazing staff (who have become our extended family), have made Merritt a very special place to live and raise a family. The feeling of belonging that comes from living here as opposed to a larger city has recently become tangible to us once again.
This is the first time I have written a letter to the editor, so obviously something has touched me deeply. The overwhelming support and encouragement that we have felt since Cameron's debut on Canada's Got Talent has been incredible and has compelled me, on behalf of my family, to write and say, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
The whole adventure was Cameron's idea, and we are so proud of him for setting a goal and working hard to make it happen. I am biased of course, as I do believe he has a special talent, but even more, he has a big heart and is a genuine, down-to-earth good kid! They say it takes a village to raise a child, and Cameron certainly is who he is because of this wonderful community. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Evan (at risk of his embarrassment, I'm sure) but he has been such a great influence on his little brother. They are best friends, sometimes partners in crime, but mostly partners in music. Their singing and piano playing fills our house. Maybe there is not always peace and harmony—but there is no shortage of beautiful melodies and harmony! Even their little sisters, Juliana and Brooklynn, join in with their sweet voices, and we get four parts going on!
A special thanks goes out to Cameron's piano teacher, Cecilia Dyck, who encouraged him for the first time to sing publicly in the County Christmas Concert a couple of years ago. Thank you to Kurt Christopherson and the County Christmas organizers for giving him a chance to perform. Thank you to Rachael Sanders and the Centennials for allowing him the thrill of singing the national anthem at the hockey games. Also, a big thank you to the Walk of Stars, who have given Cameron the honour of appearing with the incredible Michelle Wright at the Gala on June 1!
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported him with calls, cards, and even flowers! Thank you for the kind words we've received, whether at the office, around town, or on the computer (one of Evan's friends even made him a Facebook support group!). We know there are still many people we haven't spoken to yet, but we feel their well wishes too.
The tsunami of encouragement he has experienced from his home town has completely overpowered the rocky waves of bullying which are in the past. There will always be bullies in this world, but one needs to focus on all the good-hearted people that are in your corner, not on the few that aren't. This experience has certainly allowed him to do that.
It has been a blessing to hear how Cameron's performance has blessed others. We aren't sure what the future holds for him, but we do know that the people of the Nicola Valley will always have a special place in his heart as they do in ours and, like every young person that goes out from here to make their way in the world, his success will be yours too.