Now, I had actually seen Kevin speak once before, at a PARTY program presentation. PARTY is designed to help young adults understand the impact of impaired or dangerous driving by re-enacting a crash scene and presenting speakers who talk about the very real impact - physical, emotional, and legal - of these incidents. At the presentation I attended Kevin spoke in his role as an EMT, and what impressed me was how honest and raw he was with the Grade Nine students, and how he connected with them because they sensed his authenticity. He did not mince words when describing what he sees at these collisions, and he did not hesitate to use strong, powerful language to convey a compelling message. I decided right then that I wanted some day for the Intrepid Junior Blogger to speak to Kevin, because I knew that after speaking to him she would never set foot in a car with an intoxicated driver.
I was delighted when I learned Kevin would be a fellow presenter at TEDx Fort McMurray. What I could have never predicted, though, was what he would speak about, and what an amazingly thoughtful and intelligent man he is. I must admit I am 90% in love with Kevin, not in a romantic sense as Kevin is quite happily expecting his first child with his lovely wife, but in the way you fall in love with people who inspire you, and people who make you think. Kevin is one of those people, but he is also desperately funny and totally irreverent and wildly silly and even loves a good pair of shoes almost as much as I do. There were many touching moments with Kevin backstage - hugging him after the dress rehearsal when he teared up while showing an ultrasound picture of his unborn baby, and when he hugged me after my rehearsal, and told me I almost made him cry.
When Kevin performed on the day of TEDx I did cry watching him. I cried because he was talking about the future of our community, and the future for our children. I cried because when he choked up while talking about his baby I was holding the hand of my own Intrepid Junior Blogger, maybe almost fourteen now but forever my baby. I cried because I was so damn proud of him, and I am proud to say I know him.
When I introduced Kevin to the Intrepid Junior Blogger he said: "Are you proud of your mom? Because we all are" - and that comment alone cemented Kevin in my heart forever. I present to you today Kevin McNiff - EMT, soon-to-be-father, tremendous human being, and truly kind and wonderful soul. I am incredibly honoured to know him, and for this I thank TEDx and the journey we shared.