Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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Itold one of my favourite stories, just a few days ago, about that early morning in 1991 when Alvin Law first stepped into my house. Always looking for adventure, Alvin spotted a rowing machine in my den.

“Oh, wow,” he exclaimed. “A rowing machine. I’ve never been on one of these. Until now.”

Alvin dropped his black leather coat, sat comfortable on the seat and started pumping the foot pedals. Only the pedals.

Alvin was born without arms because of a drug, which would later be banned, given to pregnant women called thalidomide. He drives — both a vehicle and a motorboat. So a rowing machine? No problem.

Alvin amazingly kept his balance and pedaled for a good minute, with the oars on the side of the machine going back and forth by themselves We laughed, and giggled at his new adventure.

But we also were reminded of the fun we can enjoy when we are creative and willing to try almost everything.

How ironic that I shared Alvin’s adventure a day before he blew up the internet with a 7-1/2 minute video posted by The Daily Goalcast, a website that shares inspirational stories from around the world.

The video, entitled You’re Not Your Label, was posted Friday afternoon on Facebook. As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the video had more than 7.5 million views. In addition, Alvin has received 200 messages about the video in less than 24 hours.

Overwhelmed? Absolutely. And he didn’t see this coming.

“To be honest, Goalcast found us,” Alvin said Saturday afternoon in his cottage on Crystal Lake, Sask., an hour’s drive north of Yorkton, his hometown. “The video was sent to them by someone who saw me speak at a Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Kelowna and Goalcast, somehow, saw it.”

Alvin had been speaking about his life, and the people who have opened doors which became opportunities, since 1981. He estimates he’s given 5,000 presentations around the world.

“I’d say about 4,000 of those have been school classes,” Alvin said.

His signature act is at the end of his show when he sits down and plays a snare drum, holding his drumsticks between his toes, and banging down on the canvas with his legs.


And before he drums, Alvin uses his toes and feet to play the piano.

His wife of 25 years, Darlene, who runs his speaking business from their Calgary home, was contacted by Goalcast and was asked to send pictures of Alvin as a child and a young man.

“It really didn’t take any of our time to produce the video,” said Alvin.

Now, 58, he says he has no interest in retirement but is getting “A little tired of the travel.”

Then, in the next breath, he says he is driving from his cottage for 12 hours for a one-hour presentation in Minneapolis.

“Driving is faster, if you can believe it, than flying.”

Alvin and I first met in 1990. I’ve heard him speak countless times, and every time I do, he teaches me something new.

Like he did Saturday. Thank you, my friend.






The beat of Alvin


Why I’m a knucklehead


I’m trying to keep this as low-key as possible.

But, I think people could very well think that I may be an alien. Seriously.

And, it’s my own fault.

You see, this is my story, which I’m thinking of pitching to the executive producer for a future episode of the X-Files.

I have no identification. Y

None. Passport? Gone. Birth certificate? Try again. Alberta Health Care card? Nope. Social Insurance Number? I can recite it off the top of my head, but that little white card with those nine important numbers isn’t anywhere to be found.

This saga began — and I am embarrassed to write this — in February of 2016 when boarding an afternoon flight at Edmonton International Airport to Fort McMurray. It was a nice, sunny winter day and everything was moving along swimmingly … until I got to the gate and realized I didn’t have my passport.

But, being the sense of adventure guy that I am I thought I’d give it my best shot.

I have picture ID from the Disabled Adult Transportation Service. I dug it out of my wallet, said countless prayers and handed it to the gentleman tending the gate.

“This is,” I said, making an emotional but realistic plea, “all I have.”

The gentleman looked at it for a few seconds. Then, he rolled his eyes and probably thought “Can’t wait to tell the boss about this one.”

He calmly told me I needed government issued ID.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “You can’t fly with this.”

I dropped my head.

“But we do have another flight at 6 p.m. if you can get something by then, you’re good to go.”

I called my wife, who, for the 10,000th time, called me “a knucklehead” after she heard my story. She found the Ziploc bag with my passport and birth certificate. I then called Mr. Cab Driver — Hussein Jime — and asked him to go to our home, pick up my passport and birth certificate and run it back to the airport.

He did, I got on board, enjoyed Fort McMurray, and used my ID 24 hours later to come home.

And that’s the last time I’ve seen my passport and birth certificate.

Then, a few months after, my wallet was stolen and I lost the rest of my identification.

“You better get your ID in place,” my wife reminded me every month.

Call me the world’s biggest procrastinator. I said I would. I never did.

I knew I was flying to Kelowna at the end of the month back in July. I waited and waited until last week to apply for a birth certificate, which I need to get government ID so I can fly. Hopefully, everything comes on time.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. But it’s a comforting reminder Transport Canada is protecting our skies and only allowing people with the right documents to fly.

So, I feel kind of like an alien without any proof of identification.

But, there is still another opportunity.

I mean, aliens are known to fly on space ships, right?

Guess I can start looking for one that stops in Kelowna.

I won’t take it on a test drive. I promise!


I’ve never been serious about getting a vehicle. Until now.

A good reason why, perhaps, is because I’ve never had a driver’s license. I live with cerebral palsy and operating a motor vehicle isn’t practical.
But, I have driven. Sure I have.

Just ask my cousin Glenn Tait about that summer evening when he put me behind the wheel of his green Mustang in a Saskatchewan pasture that had more up and downs than an amusement ride at the nearest country fair. Only, I didn’t know that.

So, I floored the Green Machine. Heads hit the roof. The engine made a sound I never heard before.

“Ah, Cam,” Glenn said, hanging onto the dashboard. “You might want to slow down a touch. My universal might not take much more.”

I squeezed the steering wheel as tight as I could, adjusted my favourite baseball cap, and innocently asked: “What’s an universal?”

So safe to say — and for countless drivers and pedestrians — I’ve never owned a car, truck, SUV or motorcycle.

I’ve also been vehicle shopping.

But there’s always time for a celebrated first, right boss?

Now, I need to make one thing absolutely perfectly clear: the vehicle hunt I am currently on isn’t for me.

If you can believe it or not it could be for you.

Nic Good — known as The Good Guy, you know — and I had a meeting Friday to brainstorm ideas for the ATCO Edmonton Sun Christmas Charity Auction, set to sizzle the internet this fall.

I gave him my wish list.

“There are only two answers,” Nic said. “Yes or no.

“But, we’ll never know the answers unless we ask.”

You may have noticed we’ve been talking about the auction quite frequently lately. And even though it’s a few months away, we want to do everything we can to raise as much money as we can for the Christmas Bureau, Adopt-A-Teen and Catholic Social Services.

Because we know the needs of the community are going to be high this festive season … and, we want to do everything we can to make sure as many folks as possible can enjoy Christmas.

We’re already at 105 items, and we have our eyes on securing 195 more to give us the best possible chance to raise $135,000.

So, wouldn’t it be cool if one of our items was a vehicle?

A car?

A truck?


A van?

A motorcycle?

It sure would be … wonderful.

And here’s the neat thing: if you are planning to purchase a vehicle this fall, you could through the auction and make a significant community investment.

If you have any thoughts or ideas or leads, my email is

Call me crazy. But the heat gives me all kinds of different of ideas.

I promise I will not, under any circumstance, take it for a test drive.

That universal thing has me rather spooked.




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