TEDx Kelowna event offers inspiration

Paul Etherington
Paul Etherington's TEDx talk highlighted how well-rounded professionals can play a leadership role in making the world a better place.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith

When Paul Etherington announces his latest Motionball Marathon of Sport on Saturday, he will have a well-primed audience of the type of well-heeled young professionals who ascribe to this sort of personal achievement sports phenomenon.

Motionball is a charity he and his brothers founded to raise funds for the Special Olympics and this latest event will be held here in Kelowna. As one of the select speakers giving the world his personal message via the TEDx Kelowna event held at Habitat Friday, Etherington had the opportunity to make a first-round pitch to follow one's dreams via sport and participation to the very people who might snap up the $1000 corporate entries.

"I am a leader," he had the audience chant in unison as he closed his 12 minute talk.

Etherington grew up in a family dedicated to this sort of corporate citizenship and told the audience he's read that 80 per cent of people don't volunteer because they're not asked. He pointed out that busy professionals can always find the time for a beer with friends or a quick workout, but said most will shuck the societal responsibility to contribute because they feel they're too busy.

But just as the athletes his charity supports deserve the right to succeed and develop themselves, he believes his listeners, both in the room and those who will see the filmed TEDx talk in the future, need to pursue a fully developed vision of themselves and have the courage to become a leader and visionary in the world to find contentment.

The Marathon of Sport, his own way of achieving this goal, now runs in seven Canadian cities, challenging corporations to put forth teams to play a marathon day of sports. The events raise funds so that Special Olympians have the opportunity to pursue their dreams—an unspoken theme of Friday's event as well.

TED Talks is a registered non-profit that began in the early 1980s, sponsoring talks by global visionaries in effort to spur change and ensure leaders succeed and achieve their vision. Running under the tagline, "ideas worth sharing," TED events like this inaugural one in Kelowna run in cities around the world with the speakers' talks forwarded on so they might be asked to speak to a wider audience at a TED conference in the future.

Alaina PodmorrowFor someone like local 15-year-old Alaina Podmorrow, whose charity Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan has garnered her attention in MacLean's Magazine and made her one of the Canadian Living's 2008 Me to We award winners (among countless other accolades), it likely represents major reach to find fundraising dollars as well.

Little Women's goal is to raise money and awareness to restore women's rights in Afghanistan. They pay teachers' salaries and pay for training, raise money for library kits, science kits and other supplies needed to ensure women and girls have access to education.

Podmorrow encouraged the audience Friday to ignore doubters and pursue one's dreams, saying she was inspired to help young girls like herself in Afghanistan by a journalist, but found the courage to do so in her brother who needed a string of risky surgeries at a very young age.

"It's our duty as members of the global community to stand up and speak out," she said, adding "I believe I can do anything I set my mind to."

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