Travels in a Blue Chair: Alaska to Zambia, Ushuaia to Uluru

A disabled adventurer backpacks the world - alone!! This book makes a great holiday gift or corporate prize! See my TV interviews...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Kevin McCann - Stratford Rotarian

This book has touched many people in their lives and now it has touched me in a very powerful and sudden way.

I learned this morning of the passing of Kevin McCann from the Stratford Rotary Club. Kevin had recently contacted me about speaking to their Rotary Club. We had only contacted each other by email, but I could easily tell from his first letter, that he was devoted to Rotary, its ideals and the community and family he was part of.

Here are some excerpts from a Stratford newspaper article about his life, that Kevin's wife Ying forwarded to me...

Born and raised in the city, McCann was president of the Rotary Club in 1999-2000 was made a Paul Harris Fellow in 2002.His legacy to the club may be the idea of a dragon boat festival on the Avon River. With support from experienced paddlers Brian McNeil-Smith and brother-in-law Ken Gene, McCann pitched the idea to skeptical club members in 1993.

McCann also was involved with the Rotary Club’s Sports Celebrity Dinner, bringing in a young Eric Lindros in 1992 to help raise a record of close to $7,000 for the club’s work with disabled children.He took up paddling himself and with the Silvermasters, a team of 45-55 year-olds, competed in over 60 events in North America and one in Germany in 2001.

He also helped to develop many other dragon boat festivals in Ontario and the U.S. He was involved in a Rotary Club paddle-a-thon to raise money for a cleanup of the Avon River and was one of the initiators of the Aquabox program within the club.

Here is the original email I received from Kevin, introducing himself and his Rotary Club....

"Hi Walt

My daughter saw your recent program on Breakfast Television and sent me the link to your web site.............

I am a member of The Rotary Club of Stratford and also sit on our program committee. Our club has a membership of about 135 and we also have another club in town with about 30 members. As you are aware, Rotary is spearheading the eradication of polio and although we have made great strides, we still have a long ways to go. Our web site is

I am wondering if you might be interested in speaking to our clubs at some future meeting. We meet Thursdays at noon but might be able to change that to a special meeting to accommodate your schedule. Generally, we are able to attract many visitors to our meetings in the summer because of The Stratford Shakespeare Festival. This might be a great time to visit our great community.I am not sure if you are a patron of our theatre but if you were coming here to the theatre, it might be a great tie in.

We are members of Rotary District 6330 which stretches from the Georgian peninsula into Michigan and our clubs are quite active in doing great things. I believe that having you speak to our clubs would be a tremendous motivator to some of our Rotarians to get behind our Polio Plus program. I also think that the membership would be quite interested in purchasing your book as well.

Also, Stratford is a wonderful place in the summertime and I can assure you that you would be treated royally. And finally, I found your web site to be tremendously interesting.

If you are interested, please contact me so we can start making arrangements. If it doesn't work for you now, please consider this invitation for sometime down the road.

Best regards
Kevin McCann"

Up until his death, we had not been able to set a date for me to speak in Stratford, but I am hopeful that will be arranged, so that I can meet some of his family and friends to learn more about the man and his wonderful life.

You can read more about Kevin and his life in this article...

My sorrows go out to Kevin's wife Ying (Gene) McCann and daughters Megan, Lyndsey and Laura.

I never knew Kevin, but I feel in some way, that had I met him, we would have become friends. I know he had many friends, and they and Rotary will all miss him greatly.

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