I met Arnie while I was a teacher in Ontario. He changed the lives of my students by telling his story of living without knowing how to read and write! He urged them to ask for help and by the end of his story, many of my students found the courage they needed. That day started a 10 year journey of research, speaking engagements and friendship between Arnie and me.
Arnie was an inspiration and a one-of-a-kind friend. We spoke to 72 audiences reaching thousands and thousands of people. We received boxes full of letters from students and their teachers. Our work won the James Patterson Page Turner award and the Ministry of Education recognized the difference we were making in schools.
In 2012, Arnie was diagnosed with lung cancer. Given only 11 days to live, I rushed to be by his side one last time. In his hospital room, we reminisced, cried and laughed about the happy times we got to spend touring schools together. His final words to me, "tell the kids never to be afraid to ask for help." He was genuine to the end and I dearly miss my friend. It has been a long road of grief and transition since then.
When January 2014 happened I was determined to finish the project...that is when I happened to meet director/producer/screenwriter Joe Davison. Joe and I clicked as professionals right away. He understood the urgency of the project and knew its potential. He joined me without hesitation. Since then, Joe and I have collaboratively written a complete feature film about Arnie's life, my life and our journey together for students and literacy. We always left a seat open for Arnie. He was there with us during the process.
I am constantly marveling at the way this journey has unfolded so far. Sometimes you never know how close you are to what you need. I know Arnie would have been very proud because it was his dream to write a play about literacy. Well Arnie, your dream is coming true!
We are raising the money needed to do a documentary about Arnie's life. This documentary will help us get the script in front of a passionate hollywood director. Did you know Arnie? Did you see us speak? Do you believe that change in the education system needs to happen? Will you consider helping us gather the funds we need?
Sending love out to all my family, friends, colleagues and fellow literacy advocates. Thank you...we couldn't have gotten this far without you.
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