Alex and Dr. Grandin_a

How often do our dreams come true? Like, really, really come true?

For board member Alex Magnussen, it happened. Alex got to meet one of his idols and major influence on his life, Temple Grandin.

Alex was introduced to Semiahmoo House Society about 2 years ago. He has been an active member of the Recreation and Leisure and Personal Development Services and he currently serves on the Board of Directors as the representative for self-advocates.

Alex and I began working together in April and it has been a fantastic experience for both of us. Alex is an absolute go getter. He sets his sights on something and works towards accomplishing it. When Alex and I sat down to figure out what his goals were and what we were going to accomplish together, one of the first things he told me was that he wanted to meet Temple Grandin. It was an awesome goal. I just had no idea how to go about making it happen.

Temple Grandin and Alex both have autism. When he was 12, Alex became of aware of Dr. Grandin and the work that she does. Temple Grandin has a knack for busting through barriers and not living up to stereotypes. She is a doctor of animal science and teaches at Colorado State University. She has been instrumental in affecting the way animals are treated by introducing humane policies, she is an advocate for autism and Time Magazine has listed her as one of the 100 most influential people of all time.

On Sunday, September 28th, she spoke at Douglas College in New Westminster (which in itself seemed kind of unbelievable—whose idol comes to New Westminster?). Nolda Ware (Manager of Person Centered Thinking Practices) had posted a link to the event on Facebook, which was already sold out. Knowing that this could very easily never happen again, Alex and I decided to take a chance and just go up there, fully prepared to beg and steal and do whatever it took to get tickets. As it turns out, all you have to do is show up early and ask one really nice lady.

Upon arrival, Alex immediately spotted Dr. Grandin walking around, talking to people and signing books. The energy in the room was absolutely electric—there was just a feeling that you were in the presence of greatness. After getting our wits about us, Alex and I began following Temple around, trying to talk to her. Within five minutes, Alex had met, spoken to and gotten a picture with his idol.

Alex and Dr. Grandin_c

The presentation began shortly after and it was so interesting on so many levels. Towards the end of the presentation, someone in the audience asked Dr. Grandin a question about sensory issues. During her answer, she referenced Alex by saying, “The boy I’ve met earlier with the bright green ear muffs.” The room burst into applause for him. WHOA! Alex had made an impression on Temple. After the presentation, Alex had the chance to go up to her and personally thank her for both the wonderful experience and the personal reference. It was pretty awesome.

This evening made an impression on all involved and was potentially a once in a lifetime experience. It was also a friendly little reminder to chase down your dreams and do whatever you can to make them a reality—chances are it’s always worth it. :o)

By Nikki Tourino, Support Worker

Nikki Tourino has worked at the Semiahmoo House Society going on 12 years and she’s currently working in the Personal Development Program. She truly loves her job and still has difficulty believing she gets paid for it.

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. 

The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

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