August 19, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight
Inspiring Teen Meets Inspiring Astronaut
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Called “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Colonel Chris Hadfield brings the marvels of science and space travel to everyone he encounters…including, most recently, to a Canadian teen born with cerebral palsy, who had a wish to meet the man she calls “her idol.”
Abbey McAuley, 14, met the former commander of the International Space Station at Toronto’s Medical and Related Sciences building, or MaRS, where she had an opportunity to jam on the guitar with him. They played “Over the Rainbow” together.
“He’s very inspiring,” McAuley told CTV Toronto. Hadfield, who famously covered Davie Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while he was in orbit during his five-month stay on the ISS, even gave the teen some pointers.
“He was very observant and commented that I’m actually talented at the guitar,” McAuley said.
The teen, who also has a severe hearing impairment, only recently learned how to play the guitar. She decided to pick up the instrument 18 months ago and has been playing ever since.
Monday’s meeting was made possible by the Sunshine Foundation, which helps to make the dreams of hundreds of Canadian children with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses every year.
McAuley’s mother, Allison, said her daughter has a strong spirit — something that has helped her overcome many challenges.
“I never hear her say ‘I’m frustrated or I can’t or I don’t want to anymore,'” her mother Allison McAuley said. “(For her) every day is a new day.”