Here's a look at a few people who you might not have noticed who helped tell the story of Hamilton in 2012.
“Words can't really describe it, but I feel happy.” - Devin Scullion
Devin Scullion, the Hamilton 16-year-old who is living with progeria — a rare disease that causes rapid aging. Thanks to his involvement in a U.S. drug trial, his heart has gone from resembling that of an elderly person to being the healthy heart of a 16-year-old boy. His bones, his weight and hearing have also improved and he’s getting stronger ever day.
“I'm petrified of what the future holds.” - Katherine Richards, Brayden’s mother
Brayden Richards, the Hamilton baby who has suffered from an undiagnosed mystery disease since birth. He has had no ability to gag, cough or swallow and suffers from muscle disfunctions and limited movement. There have been numerous neurological, genetic and metabolic tests done on Brayden, but none has solved the mystery.
“We’re a smaller band from Hamilton trying to go on Letterman and it was pretty incredible the response we got.” - Simon Edwards, vocalist for Of Gentlemen and Cowards
Of Gentlemen and Cowards, the Hamilton band that got the chance to preform their song, “Save Me” on the Late Show with David Letterman. Guitarist Christian Fedele, drummer Jake Warren, vocalist Simon Edwards and bassist Josh Dawson — all McMaster University students — got the opportunity after winning a contest.
“It was very generous. He was like Santa Claus.” - Wilma Stolk, one of the tenants at the home
The anonymous Good Samaritan who bought a week’s worth of groceries for a local group home when he saw one of its staff members shopping. He stepped out of line, paid for the groceries and simply went on his way. The home was one of the Homestead Christian Care Centres, which provides affordable housing and support services.
“Now I see she was tormented more than I realized. She hid it well because she didn't want to bother anybody. That was Emily.” - Cathy Jerome, Emily’s mother
Emily Jerome, the Saltfleet teen who commited suicide after being pushed to the brink by school bullying. Though not formally diagnosed, the teen struggled with suicidal thoughts for months, making a previous attempt earlier that year. Four months later, on June 16, fellow Saltfleet students Irn Mace and Alex McCormick fell from the Jolley Cut in what police eventually determined to be a joint suicide, spurring the community to talk about mental health and how to help struggling teens.
“It shouldn’t be a token example; I shouldn’t be the only one. It should be a normal thing because I want to be one of many.” - Siobhan Stewart
Siobhan Stewart, McMaster’s first black student union president. The fifth-year anthropology student is an accomplished and active member of the community. She has tutored young kids at the Globe in downtown Hamilton, helped new immigrants improve their English, and is writing a review on the Good Shepherd Notre Dame House Meal Program for a social research project — all the while spending quality time with the organization’s street-involved youth.
“The saying in our family was ‘you rise above,’ and that came from what my great-grandfather did. It doesn’t matter what life hands you, you rise above it.” -Nerene Virgin, a great-granddaughter of Holland, and an organizer of the event
The Holland Family, descendants of a fugitive slave who reunited in Hamilton this summer. Thomas John Holland was only 15 when he made the dangerous two-month trip to seek refuge in Hamilton. In July, the distant relatives came together to celebrate their ancestor in the city where he found freedom.
“Basically, it felt like I was drugged for an entire month. I was confused about a lot of things. I looked at my (school) notes and my notes weren't written properly. And my notes are always neat and I always write everything down.” - Kaitlyn Terrana
Kaitlyn Terrana, the Hamilton teen who suffers from ‘sleeping beauty syndrome,’ a fairy tale name for a debilitating syndrome. She experiences six-week cycles in which she has no choice but to take to her bed, slumbering for about 10 days at a time. There is no known cure for the condition, also called Klein-Levin syndrome, but sufferers often grow out of it once they reach their 20s.
“There is a persistence of cultural memory, no matter how much someone might try to shut it down.” - Laura Cattari
Laura Cattari, the Hamilton woman who discovered her family was one of hundreds of supposedly Catholic families stretching back to Italy who actually have Jewish roots. Years of persecution lead Italian Jews to convert or leave Italy to Catholicism. Those families might have abandoned outright depictions of their faith, but many practices stayed and bubbled under the surface, as in Cattari’s family. Though she hasn’t had outright confirmation, her research leads her to believe she has Jewish roots and has since converted to Judaism.