Every year, Hamilton introduces us to amazing, talented and inspiring people. At CBC Hamilton, we do our best to make sure you get to meet them too. We've met so many in 2014 that it's worth reminding you of a few of those who moved our readers the most.
Here's a look at a group of women whose stories you might have missed in 2014. Each one made Hamilton a better place over the last twelve months.
1. Leah Gallo
2014 was the year that Hamilton became the first place in Canada to have mall security guards carry epinephrine auto injectors. This program will save lives. And it exists because Leah Gallo and her husband Vincent lost their 12-year-old daughter Maia. Maia collapsed and died in a Burlington mall in 2013. She died after eating ice cream. Hamilton has begun a one-year pilot project in which Anaphylaxis Canada trained mall guards at Jackson Square on how to use auto injectors. Leah and Vincent attended the launch. "The only thing we can do is prevent it from happening again," she said.
High school is tough enough for the average 17-year-old. But try getting used to it after growing up in classrooms in the middle of a war. When Aivana was seven, her teacher was killed in a bomb blast in her native Iraq. She saw her teacher die. She survived that bombing and a kidnapping attempt too. It's trauma that she still carries with her in her Hamilton classrooms at St. Jean de Brebeuf Secondary School. She has found support in 'Let's Talk Girls,' a program offered by the YMCA's Settlement Workers in Schools.
3. Talli Osborne
Talli Osborne was born without arms and missing bones in her legs. At Supercrawl in 2014, she spoke to crowds at the music festival about our notions of beauty. Osborne is an inspirational speaker and musician. She's suffered as the target of cruel comments about her appearance and turned that derision into a positive message about true beauty. At 19, she stopped wearing prosthetic arms and legs that made her look taller. She told CBC Hamilton, “The reason I couldn’t be like everyone else is because I’m not. And I love that. Just love yourself – love your body. Embrace it.”
4. Brooke Hamilton
Earlier this year, people on Twitter may have saved the life of a young woman in Hamilton. Her name is Brooke Hamilton and March 6 was one of the darkest days of her life. She has schizoaffective disorder and took to Twitter that day and inadvertently live-blogged her psychotic episode. Caring people in Hamilton noticed and worked to get her help. That was then. She got the help she needed and now keeps a blog, Queen Of The Whirl, that has recorded her recovery. You should get to know Brooke Hamilton.
5. Terri Wallis
Terri Wallis is the candidate who was up for election in 2014 who, if she had won, wouldn't have made it through the doors into council chambers. Wallis is in a wheelchair and that won't get you into Hamilton's council chambers. Renovations in 2010 forgot to make the room accessible. How about that? Wallis lost in Ward 2 to incumbent Coun. Jason Farr but came in to the race with an impressive political resume, having worked for federal NDP campaigns and as the campaign manager former Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board chair Jessica Brennan. Impressed yet? No? She also has a second-degree black belt.