Sunday, November 02, 2014

Great Things in Small Packages (by Peter A. Black)

She toiled through the evening hours. With every kick and stroke she pushed and pulled through the darkness of night, pressing through the pain.
For almost twenty-seven hours, without a moment of sleep, she pushed ever forward, clawing at the water, defying six-foot waves that rushed relentlessly at her, smashing into her face, as though attempting to stifle her breath. Fighting cramping in her leg muscles, while willing her fatigued arms and shoulders to move, she ignored the deepening cold during the long hours from sunset to dawn.
Tempted, but never giving up, she pressed on until she achieved her goal. At less than five feet tall that wisp of a woman was only fourteen years, one hundred and fifty-eight days.
This human dynamo is Great Lakes marathon swimmer Annaleise Carr—the youngest ever, at the time of her Lake Ontario open-water swim (August, 2012), to complete the 57 kilometres, from the mouth of the Niagara River to the breakwater at Marilyn Bell Park, in Toronto. Shifted off course and hampered by adverse weather, she actually swam 77 kilometres.
Courtesy: Annaleise Carr's FB Page
In July, 2014 Annaleise cut short her intended 75 kilometre Lake Erie swim from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Port Dover, Ontario, at the 42 kilometre mark, by coming ashore at Long Point. That was a wise decision, for rough conditions and stormy weather prevailed. However, she completed the remaining 33 kilometre distance on September 1st.  
Why does she do it?
Compassion flooded her heart when she visited Camp Trillium in Norfolk County, Ontario, near Lake Erie, and there met children suffering from cancer. She witnessed the wonderful care, companionship and enjoyment that Trillium provides for them, and offered to volunteer. “Give me a call in five years,” said the director. Trillium’s volunteers must be at least eighteen; Annaleise was only thirteen.
A determined and creative individual, who loves God and people, she would not be deterred. And so, she conceived the idea of the swim.
In the two years since that Lake Ontario swim she has received a score of awards and numerous citations and commendations, from many organizations and various levels of Government. Public venues bear her name on commemorative plaques, and the town of Simcoe community swimming pool was renamed after her—Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre. She was included in CHCH TV’s Top 20, 2012, and was also number 10 in CTV Kitchener’s top stories, the same year.
Listing all her recognitions to date is extensive. To mention here only a short list, selected from among the many:
~ World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Woman of the year in 2012

~ Ontario Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Pin, presented by Lieutenant Governor David Onley

~ 2012 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year

~2012 Canadian Sport Awards Spirit of Sport Story of the Year

~ Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, presented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper

~ Recipient, Peace Tower Canadian Flag, presented by Minister Diane Findley MP, on behalf of Prime Minster Harper.
The list continues to grow as accolades of her more recent accomplishments roll in.
Now a sixteen-year-old highschool student, Annaleise remains unassuming, despite the momentous attention surrounding her. The eldest of four siblings, she laughs and smiles her way through her day with her siblings and school chums. She hopes her passionate motivational talks in schools will inspire young people to aim higher and engage in helping others.
Fellowship room, Eden Baptist Church, ON
Peter, with Annaleise and her dad, Jeff Carr,
Despite her slightly restrained demeanour when addressing a mainly adult audience, she doesn’t curtail her passion and evident desire to allow God to use her skills and life to bless others – especially the children who receive help and hope through Camp Trillium.
Her efforts and inspiration has helped mobilize, in a ripple effect, many individuals, organizations and businesses. Their efforts, combined with hers have, to date, raised more than $260,000 in donations for the cause.
My wife and I are honoured to have met this remarkable young lady and her family. She acknowledges she couldn’t have accomplished her goals without them and a great host of others who volunteer.
Annaleise Carr is living proof: Great things can and often do come in small packages! And also that God will make a way for those who live for Him and desire to bless others. :)
Source Credits: 1. Live interview October 2014 – Rev. A. Brndjar and Ms. Carr at Eden Baptist Church, Ontario. 2. Toronto, 2014: Recordbooks / Lorimer; “Annaleise Carr: How I conquered Lake Ontario to help kids battling cancer” by Annaleise Carr as told to Deborah Ellis. 3. Simcoe Reformer / Norfolk County Tourism, Ontario. Booklet, 2014: “Conquering Lake Ontario”; #annaswims.

Peter’s new book, “Raise Your Gaze . . . Musings of a Grateful Heart,” was released in August.

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer and columnist in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults.


Janis Cox said...

What a great article Peter. It is wonderful to see what God is doing in the lives of others.

Tracy Krauss said...

such an inspiration!

Peter Black said...

Thanks Tracy. I hope and pray Annaleise will continue on this positive path and remain unaffected negatively by the high degree of media and public attention. The signs are good; hers is a close, Christ-following family.~~+~~

Susan Harris said...

Kudos for her vision and giftings that allow it to happen.

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