"Napkins change the world...they also change people."
What started out for Garth Callaghan as simple notes of encouragement on a napkin to his only daughter, Emma, which were put in her lunchbox as she started school, turned into a journey of testing his faith.
Callaghan was the guest speaker Wednesday night (June 10, 2015) at the Children's Treatment Centre of SD&G and Akwesasne annual general meeting.
The saga for the Virginia dad started in 2011 when he was diagnosed with cancer and would face three more diagnoses, the last one proving to be a death sentence. Doctors have given Callaghan about five years to live.
Roughly 150 people were at the Best Western Parkway Inn in Cornwall to hear how Callaghan took those simple "Napkin Notes" and turned them into a larger legacy, setting out to write 826 of them to cover every day until Emma, now 15, reaches her high school graduation.
"Napkins are worthless ... but the moment you take a pen and write something on them, they become priceless," Callaghan said.
Callaghan says napkins "have transformed me as a person" and have also tested his faith in God.
The 45-year-old said he struggled and was mad with God about his health problems. "I really was struggling with the fact my daughter would grow up without a dad and that brought me to my knees," he said.
"Be angry with Him," he was told by his parish priest, suggesting He has "broad shoulders." Callaghan said "for the first time in a long time, I felt a weight being lifted."
The heavy stuff ... as he put it ... started in January 2014 and he believes he was being "pushed violently on the path" by God to write those hundreds of napkin notes, finish a book about his story, embark on a road tour with his daughter and to accept a movie deal with New Line Cinema.
The movie deal will set his family up financially after he's gone, Callaghan told the audience.
The book "Napkin Notes" is already out by HarperCollins. A date for the movie release is yet to be announced.
Awards and Recognition
The AGM night continued with giving out plaques of appreciation to the various sponsors of the CTC.
Sarah Massia was given the Spirit Award, for commitment and devoted service to the Children's Treatment Centre. Massia is the first youth to receive the award in the CTC's 19 year history.
The recent Queen's graduate has been a devoted fundraiser, bringing in more than $1,000 through a barbecue, bake sale and car wash and other events with the help of friends.
New president of the CTC for upcoming year
Don Fairweather was named president of the CTC for the upcoming year, taking over from long-time board member Rev. Gordon Bryant.
The rest of the executive is Vice President Johanne Lafrance-Cardinal, secretary Manon Tailleur, treasurer Claude Doth and board members Andy Graham, Rachelle Lalonde, Vincent Robinson, Lyle Van Allen, Peter Padbury and Roland Bissonnette.