“I read The Running Dream on my way to the World Championships. I nearly missed my flight for reading it and inhaled it before I touched down. It’s a truly touching story that feels very real.” Katrin Green, Paralympic Gold Medalist
Katrin lost her foot when she was five. She was in a farming accident in her homeland of Germany. She now lives in the United States and runs with a prosthetic leg (just like Jessica in The Running Dream), and she won a gold medal in the Beijing Paralympics. (The Paralympics always take place shortly after the Olympics but get very little news coverage, which I'm hoping is something that changes in the years ahead.)
Katrin was not someone I knew personally. Nor was she a friend of a friend of a friend.
So how did I wind up with this amazing quote from her?
We go back to The Power of Small.
Back, once again, to a librarian.
Caradith Craven is a LMS at a middle school in Oklahoma. She set up my first school visit several years ago, and I went back to Oklahoma to visit again after her school won the Exercise the Right to Read challenge.
Caradith is a powerhouse of action. She transforms her library and hallways with displays and artwork reflecting the visiting author's books, but through her actions she also transforms kids. She guides and nurtures and makes even the toughest kids feel like they have a safe-haven in her library. (I know this because she sends me little stories about special kids, underscoring how my books resonated with them, but I know the reality is that it's not my books as much as it is Caradith -- she takes the time and has the patience to connect with them and find out what books will work for them.)
When The Running Dream came out, Caradith once again sprang into action. She loved the book so much that she convinced her school to try their first "all-school" read (meaning that everyone from the principal to the teachers to the janitorial staff reads the same book). In this case (and since the book is only available in hard cover), each teacher reads part of the book each day to their students in (say) first period. Other schools have done this with my books Flipped and Runaway, and I love the concept of an all-school read because it's a bonding experience for the entire school.
The picture I've included is from Caradith (she's on the bottom row, third from the right), and as you can see, she also had T-shirts made. (She sent me one and the entire 7th grade class had autographed it.)
So yeah, this'll make an author swell with happiness. You just look at that picture and go, wow. But she didn't stop there. She took a copy of my book and went to Sabolich--a prosthetic manufacturer which has a facility near the town where she lives. And she went in and asked to talk to the marketing director.
Hello? The marketing director?
Well, she gave the marketing director the book and told her she had to read it. Which, amazingly, she did. And, it turned out, she loved it too. So (condensing the story here) the marketing director gave it to one of Sabolich's sponsored athletes--Katrin Green--who happened to be catching a flight to the World Championships. The quote above is the result of that.
So, once again, I'm reminded that one person can make a big difference in our lives, but the really interesting thing to me is something more intangible than that:
We never know who that person might be.