I had the amazing opportunity to speak at Tolerance Fair 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. With over 120 social causes represented, this was the first time because I said I would has ever had an event booth. Amanda, my lead volunteer, did a great job of setting up the booth and working with me to engage attendees. I was actually surprised to see how many people were interested in talking to us. At times we had a small crowd waiting in line to hear the message. Some people said they had heard of us before. Others just thought the name was thought provoking enough to stop by.
Tolerance Fair was started by Justin Bachman, a 10th grader from Solon High School who was kicked out of a cross country meet because of his Tourette Syndrome. As a result of this experience, he planned and hosted the first Tolerance Fair in 2011 where 1,000 people had the opportunity to interact with 48 charitable organizations to learn how they could get involved in community service. He was recently recognized as a Bronze Medal winner for the Prudential Spirit of Community award and he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama and the Council on Service and Civic Participation. Justin and his mom called me a few days before the event and asked if I would join them. This is a picture with me, Justin, his mom and his dad.
The keynote speaker of the event was Kyle Maynard. Born with a condition known as congenital amputation, Kyle’s arms only go to the elbow and his legs to the knee. Despite his challenges, Kyle has become a world-renowned athlete. While training for one of the greatest challenges of his life, Kyle met the mother of Corey Johnson, a man who always wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Corey was a private in the U.S. Army and died serving his country in Afghanistan. Kyle made a promise to Corey’s mother that he would bearcrawl up Mt. Kilimanjaro and spread Corey’s ashes. On January 15th, 2012, he did just that.
The Tolerance Fair was a great experience for because I said I would. I had the opportunity to meet the leaders of so many great organizations. I am very thankful to Justin and his family for giving me the opportunity to speak at the event. I can’t wait until next year!