Sharon’s Story

Everyone loves the feel-good story, including us at Elite Image. And here is one from our newest Brand Champion, Sharon Stannard.

We ran a little Facebook contest at the end of October. We were giving away 2 tickets to the BC Lions in a pivotal game versus the rival Edmonton Eskimos. It was Halloween-themed, and asked people to post their favourite Ghost Stories and get their friends to vote on the best one to win the tickets. It was a heated battle between Tali (another fan) and Sharon up until the final minutes. In the end, Tali pulled it out and beat Sharon by a meager 17 votes. But that's where things got interesting.

Turns out we were so impressed with the Ghost Story Sharon produced, which was her own, and the effort she put out to get people to vote for her story that we happened to find another pair of tickets to the game. But let's let Sharon tell the story in her own words:

To be sixty years of age and to have enjoyed such a memorable weekend makes me so appreciative and so happy.

Early last week (October 25th, 2011) I entered an Elite Image Ghost Story Contest for two BOX SEATS to the BC Lions versus the Edmonton Eskimos game in Vancouver on Saturday, October 29th.

My younger brother, Leyton, has a liver transplant approximately this time last year and in celebration of his second chance at life I thought it would be astonishing to be able to be at an arena watching a football game.

This contest closed on October 26th at 5:00 pm precisely according to Reed Botwright's (Elite Image's Social Media Manager extraordinaire) Swiss chronometer and I came in a very close second place. I am so grateful to my friends and family for voting for my story. Have you heard that strangers are just friends waiting to happen? This is so very true and this contest is proof of that statement; just ask Sabinah, another contest contestant who voted for my story.

End of story you may be thinking, well not at all!!!!!!!! Elite images surprisingly gave me a pair of tickets to the SAME LIONS GAME! How wonderful is that? Pretty darned wonderful however it got a whole lot more wonderful as impossible as that may seem. When I went to pick up my tickets on Friday at the Elite Image office in Nanaimo I was presented with BOX SEATS tickets also! Fearful of fainting or breaking down in happy tears of total disbelief I hugged this awesome man with the great smile. Thank you Reed; (thank you Catrina — thank you Elite Image)!!!!!!!!!!

I called my brother after the contest closed and the results were posted to tell him that we had not won. I could hear his disappointment when he simply stated, "oh that is okay". When I told him that Elite was going to give us tickets he was so thrilled just knowing that we were going to the game.

I decided NOT to tell my brother that we had been given Box Seats . Keeping secrets is almost an impossibility for me but I succeeded with this self imposed challenge and I am so glad that I did.

My brother, Leyton, had never been to a football game. Decades ago I and several of my classmates received tickets for a Blue Bombers game in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I was in Elementary School and volunteered time as a "crossing guard" and all of the crossing guards were rewarded with with tickets to a game. This was such an honour and the memory of being in the presence of these "giants" of men has always stayed with me. Needless to say I have been a football fan ever since. My goodness how times have changed though. This game was outdoors and we sat on wooden bleacher type seats but to me it will always be one of the greatest decades in Canadian football history.

Friday came and went …. sleepless night with all the excitement of anticipation of our upcoming adventure. I hopped in my little green truck early Saturday morning to get a head start on my workload so I could leave work early. I work at Uncle Sam's Furniture in Nanaimo and all my co-workers were thrilled with the news of my win. The owner of the business came up to me at one point to publically announce that I could not go as they needed me there on Saturday and I "might as well just give him the tickets", ha ha ha ha ha. A "joker" in every crowd! Lucky for me he was not serious …. actually there is a funny twist to this aspect of the story that I may as well mention here. (New owners have taken over the furniture store effective Monday, October 31 but I am sure this is nothing to do with me not giving the former owner my tickets! I hope they direct all their advertising through Elite Images.)

The atmosphere at the store Saturday morning was exciting and happy. Everyone has a sports related story to tell. Although I did manage to get the essential elements of my job completed it was highly evident that my concentration skills were fading to the point of becoming non-existent. Impossible to focus as I discovered how wonderful it can be to day dream. Using my new found "game logic" it seemed crystal clear to me that I might as well hop in my little truck and point it in the direction of Duke Point Ferry Terminal sooner than later which is exactly what I did finding myself on the 12:45 vessel to the "Big City".

Both my brother and I live on this beautiful Island in the Pacific. Leyton in Victoria and I live in Nanaimo. We arranged to meet at the Howard Johnson on Kingsway & West 10th prior to the game. My brother has to travel frequently to Vancouver for medical appointments and he primarily stays overnight at this particular hotel where the staff is so pleasant and the rates are affordable.

The simplest and most economical way for us to travel was as foot passengers. Using public transit is not only faster but it is also a wonderful way to connect with new friends. More on that a bit later in this brief (honest I really planned for this to be brief, ha ha) weekend report.

At the terminal waiting to board I struck up a conversation with a young fellow who mentioned he was going to a game in Vancouver. I thought that perhaps it was the winner of this contest but he was Taylor, a high school student heading to a Canucks game. I did not see him too often on the boat but that is probably because I was up on the outside decks several times ….. actually I spent most of the trip on deck looking for signs of land indicating getting close to the mainland. My mind drifting back to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner; one of the many rhymes that my dad (who God Rest His Soul would of loved to have been at this game with us) would recite to us as children. My sea voyage was not nearly fast enough but the weather was lovely, blue skies, sunshine and no wind or rain. Land I did finally see and well before the announcement that the boat was nearing the Vancouver terminal I found myself second in the line up to get off the boat — no surprise there, ha ha ha; the first in line was Taylor! I like to think it was not because he was more excited that I … he had youth on his side and he could move faster! We chatted some more and another very nice young man who had recently moved to Nanaimo from New Brunswick joined in our conversation. Apparently he had received a telephone call from his sister on Friday asking if he would like to go to a BC Lions game on Saturday that she had tickets too! You know a person could write an entire book of human interest stories, those wonderful little stories behind the people attending the games or people winning contests or?????? People have always fascinated me and they are my motivators in life and this might be something I should perhaps pursue!

The transit bus taking me on the next leg of our great adventure was waiting outside the terminal and within a half hour I was on the train leaving Sky Train Station at Bridgeport enroute to Broadway/City Hall Station. Lastly I hoped onto a #9 bus on Broadway, off at Kingsway, quick jaunt up the hill to the hotel and my brother who was anxiously waiting my arrival. Maybe one hour total travel time but most importantly Zero Stress!

Leyton and I make an unanimous executive decision to leave immediately for BC Place …. too energized to wait …. too excited for anything except getting to the game arriving just as the gates were opening. We had just found BC Place when young Taylor (from the boat) walked past us enroute to the Canuks game across the road. Unbelievable. In a city the size of Vancouver on Halloween weekend and two major games being played side by side who would ever believe that you would see amongst all the thousands of people right beside you the new friend whom you had just met hours before on the boat. After a brief greeting we both went on our ways …. wow!

We walked around the perimeter of the building entering at Gate H. Leyton had not quit smiling since I met up with him at the hotel but when we entered our Box Seat visions of long ago childhood Christmas Days came to mind. He was beaming and we cried and we hugged, we laughed and we even danced a little quickstep. I am not an overly religious individual but even in the Bible we are told to "be as a child". I never really understood completely what this meant until that moment we opened the door to our seats and I saw the expression on his face. Elite Image — thank you. You have no idea how much this trip has meant to us. We are both so eternally grateful.

Now if that is not as good as it gets …. it really does get better! We were joined by the winner of the Ghost Story Contest, Tali and his "Big Brother" of seven years. What wonderful people each of these are and we were so happy to meet them and enjoy the game alongside them.

The game was absolutely marvelous. Both the BC Lions and Edmonton Eskimos played fast and furious. The BC Lions did win 29-20 but it was exciting the whole game through. If I were asked who my personal favourite is, I would have to go with Solomon Elimimian who has been quoted as saying "It's not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win, that makes the difference". Reminds me of the fast and furious challenge of Elite Image's Ghost Story Contest.

The game was over lightening fast but the story does not end here. Leyton and I walked out of BC Place alongside the other approximately 30,000 football fans joining the tens of thousands of hockey fans leaving Rogers Arena. Add to this sea of people all the thousands of Halloween party goers and theatre goers, etc. etc. etc. and Vancouver becomes absolutely ELECTRIC. The sights, the sounds, the music, the food — one huge downtown fun party. Looking around you would see not only the usual vampires, ghosts, pumpkins, angels and princesses (typical Halloween costumes) but there was a bit of everything amongst the crowds; Popeye, Jack Sparrow, Buzz Lightyear, Fred Flintstone; the list is endless. It was pure magic. Everyone having an amazing time. What a city! How proud am I to be not only Canadian but a resident of Beautiful British Columbia.

It was getting close to midnight when we approached a most helpful and polite City Policeman to ask for directions back to the hotel as by this time we were totally confused but loving every moment of it. As it turns out we were less than a half block from a train station and within 15 minutes we were back at the Howard Johnson in our pjs and fast asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

Sunday morning began with a lovely breakfast at the hotel and a ride together on the buses and trains back to the ferry terminal. Met an interesting woman from Pender Island who had just returned from Istanbul, Turkey and a visitor from Ontario who asked me to "buddy" her on the ferry ride home as it was her first time on the boat but they will have to remain stories for another time. I had to be back for work so it was necessary to be on the first ferry out of the Big City. It would have been nice to have stayed a bit later but there are absolutely no regrets. We each have so many memories of this past weekend … memories that will last our lifetimes. Leyton has to return to Vancouver tomorrow (Wednesday) for medical reasons and I can well imagine the stories he will be telling those wonderful folks at BC Transplant.

I firmly believe that "Life is for the Living" and Elite Image your generosity in providing these tickets and the opportunity of a lifetime will never be forgotten. May you have every success in your business endeavours. I will always be your #1 Fan (or if not #1 a very close second, ha ha — which seems to be just how it is for me). Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sharon Stannard

PS — I have to go now and write the unabridged version of my Ghost Story!

Thank you, Sharon. You turned our little contest from a simple ticket give-away into an experience we will all remember.

The Elite Team