Let me tell you about Daryn.
Daryn is 28 years old. He is a tall handsome young man with big brown eyes and of slender build. Daryn was born with brain damage. He couldn't talk until he was 10 years old and even then had a very limited vocabulary. He went to school but didn't communicate very well so no one was quite sure how much he was taking in.
He couldn't look you in the eye because of his shyness but responded in a way that allowed you to know that he understood what you were saying.
Daryn found his way to us when he was 10 years old. His mother Corrine brought him and his siblings, 5 and 6 yrs. olds, to our first Special Woodstock. I asked Corrine if she would like Daryn to take part on stage with the entertainment.
She had her doubts that he would be able to say anything at all, so I suggested that his siblings join him. She replied that the only song that they knew was "Oh Canada". So that is what they did. Daryn looked at the ground the whole time and didn't really join in until about his 5th year when he started relaxing on stage and began joining his sister on her mike.
Each year after that he began to sing louder, smile at the audience and this year Daryn showed up with a new guitar and wanted to do more than "Oh Canada". Daryn had been practicing all year, his Special Woodstock hat next to the door waiting with anticipation for his big moment on stage. Of course, we made sure that he could perform a couple more songs
His mother Corrine came to me over the past few years at Special Woodstock in tears of joy at seeing how much more confident he has become. She just couldn’t believe it was the same son. This year Corrine came up to me and said, "Special Woodstock helped Daryn to mature and become a man."
Special Woodstock gave Daryn a place to be heard. He is loved by a huge island community because they know him, have watched him grow, and appreciate him for his courage. Daryn feels that love and leaves our festival with confidence and a voice which he uses to stand tall and look you in the eye when he speaks.
This is just one of many of the thousands of stories which I could share with you.
The grandmother who comes to me in tears telling me how much it meant to her to see her grandchild playing with the children without disabilities. How easily he was accepted as one of their immediate friends.
The teen who has grown up with the festival because her mom volunteered every year, who stood up in her grade 8 class and corrected a teacher who was incorrectly labeling a child in her class with disabilities.
David, hooking rugs, making cards and beading necklaces all year to sell at his table at Special Woodstock. Instead of sitting in front of the tv all day.
Special Olympics gives athletes a platform, Special Woodstock gives people with musical and artistic talents the same, a platform to show their artistic talents and meet other people on Vancouver Island with and without disabilities. We all have something to teach and to learn from each other. Through the joy of music, we have found a common language in which to do that.
Special Woodstock is for everyone.