A Story of Courage

We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.

Barbara De Angelis
Matthew and family with Optimist Club President Ross

Matthew is undeniably a very courageous teen and our Optimist Club was blessed to have him share his story with us at our September dinner meeting. He is a Childhood Cancer patient in the maintenance phase of his treatment. To demonstrate the steps of his journey over the past 2 ½ years, he pulled string after string of bravery beads out of a specially made wooden bowl. The strings just kept coming! Over 30 feet! Each bead represents some activity in his journey – every blood test, every treatment. The bowl is big and Matthew commented that “bowls are meant to be filled.”

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Matthew and his parents gave us a glimpse into what it means to live the Childhood Cancer journey. Two 6 week stays in a hospital an hour away from home. Away from school. Away from work for parents. Not only is there the physical impact on the patient, there are emotional and financial impacts on the entire family. Fortunately, medical staff and hospitals around the globe share information and ongoing research which is improving outcomes.

Locally, there are supports to help families and patients cope, including:

Please  consider supporting one of the organizations helping Childhood Cancer patients in our community.  In honor of Matthew’s courage, our Optimist Club has made a donation to the Children’s Health Foundation to support the Music and Art Therapy programs.


If your group is youth focused and you would like to be a guest speaker at one of our dinner meetings, send us an email.

2019-2020 Contests Announced

Want to showcase your writing skills? Or your public speaking skills? Consider participating in one or both of our annual contests this school year. With some exceptions, you are welcome to participate every year — an excellent way to practice and develop your skills in a supportive, risk-free environment.

Contestants participate in a club-level contest and winners move on to compete at higher levels where scholarships are awarded to winners. (Click on links below for more details.)

“Is Optimism the Key to Achieving the Dreams you iMagine?”

“Just iMagine a World without Boundaries.”

We look forward to reading your essay or listening to your speech!

A Life Changing Experience

I was fortunate to be selected to represent my school at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference, also known as HOBY.  If I could describe my experience in a few words, it would be inspiring, life changing, and incredibly fun. From the moment I arrived I was attacked with good vibes and lots of spirit.  Throughout the three days we did team building activities, community projects, had a dance, a talent show, and listened to some amazing motivational speakers. 

I left the seminar with many new friends, an inspired mind, and a determination to get involved in my school. My experience at HOBY has encouraged me to do things that without it, I may not have done. It left me feeling empowered and able to do anything.  It left me brave enough to apply for student council, which is now one of my favourite aspects of grade eleven. It’s taught me a lot about being a leader in life and at school. 

I’m so thankful to the Optimist Club for sponsoring HOBY.  It has touch the lives of so many people and has a rippling effect that continues to benefit communities long after the event.  It is unlike any other leadership program out there. The way I live my life would be very different if I hadn’t had this opportunity, and all the other HOBY alumni will tell you the same.  Please continue to sponsor this amazing event and inspire more and more students. Thank you, thank you, for investing in today’s youth, and tomorrow’s leaders. 

A HOBY 2017 participant (from Waterloo Region)


Click here for more information about HOBY.