Dear Cam,

I’ve never sent you a letter before the start of a new year. Honestly, you’ve been busy having fun New Year’s Eve, starting with those parties as a teenager at Doug and Mary Armstrongs when I was a teenager. And, oh yes: the year you hosted four for dinner at the Italian Gardens — remember, the location on 108 St.? — when you, very innocently, forgot   wallet — and called your father in an absolute panic. Your dad brought your wallet, and your date, Miss Deanna, never, ever let me forget it.

Now, you and your wife Joan and traditionally share New Year’s Eve at home, order in Chinese food and raise a glass of bubbly when the clock strikes 12 midnight.

It’s wonderful to have memories.

But … it’s more important, I’ve learned, to look ahead, set some goals, have a plan and then, simply, go get them.

I’m not daring you. Nor am I challenging you.

I  want to encourage you.

I encourage you to think twice when you get a tempting invitation to go out with the boys — something you’ve enjoyed hundreds of times — when Joan’s favourite television show is on, despite the PVR thing.

I know how much you enjoy eating and having a beer and a wee dram of scotch. But when you’ve think you’ve had plenty — and only you knows when that is — ask yourself, in brute honesty, if you really need another helping.

You’re note getting any younger, Cam. And I know your family — especially grandsons Nicholas, Christopher and Matthew — want to have you healthy for  as long as they can.

I encourage you, as a person with disability, to remind yourself when you’re getting impatient waiting for a ride, or someone to help you get showered and dressed for the day, that you are not the on person with a disability on the planet. It may, at times, feel that way. But you are part of a community that shares services.

I encourage you to remind yourself of that.

And building on that point, when you do receive services, I encourage you to remember not to think of people — personal care assistants, DATS drivers, occupational therapists and many others — do not work for you.

They work with you.

I encourage you to be more of a team member.

In August, you will start your 40th as a reporter and columnist. I encourage to be better.

Double check your copy four or five times before pushing the almighty send button. Start writing earlier — and, be honest, Cam: you leave everything until the last minute, right? Sure, it’s a rush living on the edge. But I encourage you to think of Barry, and Chad, and Hillsy — the people waiting for your copy back at the Postmedia newsroom. Be earlier so their jobs are easier.

I encourage you to be … more encouraging. Be part of as how many people’s dreams as you can.

And when you feel yourself impatient, or selfish, or a little hungry or playing your favourite air traffic controller video game when you could be writing your column, have this on your desktop.

And encourage yourself, and others, to be just a little better.

Happy New Year, Cam.

Your friend,



Written by 

Follower of Christ, husband, father, grandfather, Edmonton Sun columnist, Oiler Entertainment Group writer, co-author of Disabled? Hell No! I’m a Sit-Down Comic, speaker, comedian, Challenge Insurance special projects advisor, former Edmonton Journal columnist, vice-cjair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and closet Beverly Hillbillies mega fan and (very small) closet disco singer.