Tom Watson is a man who has an ability few of us do - the talent and capacity to make a difference in the lives of many.
Watson is an author and inspirational speaker who strives to mentor young people and encourage men to be present in their families' lives.
Watson's book, Man Shoes, is on its way to being a national best seller. And ironically, the dad of three sons is now taking time from his own family to promote his story. This week Watson has been on Global news, CTV national news, 100 Huntley Street, (a Christian TV show) and a TV talk show in Indiana. Since the book's debut last summer, Watson has crisscrossed North America. As evidenced by the many interviews on his website (www.manshoes.net), Watson has been well received wherever he's gone.
This book came about after Watson had a stroke eight years ago. He decided to start journals for his sons.
"If something happened to me, what would they remember about me? There's a lot of stuff I wanted them to know about their dad," Watson mused.
He wanted the three boys, Brad, Kelly and Jordan, to know where their father had come from and Watson wanted to share life tips to hopefully spare his sons some of the trials he had experienced in his 50 years.
But most of all he wanted to leave them with the message: "Your choice plus your actions equal your life," and only they would be able to determine what that life would be.
Even so, the journals would probably never have seen the published light of day if not for a friend of Watson's. The father of two daughters was curious about what Watson had written in the journals. He finally persuaded Watson to share the intensely personal missives.
When the friend finished reading the journals, he proceeded to ask Watson over and over, "What have you done with your book, for this is a book. It needs to be shared so that others can learn from this."
Finally, after much thought, Watson decided to do as his friend advised.
With his wife Kathy's blessing, Watson turned his inspiring story, warts and all, into a public offering.
From a beginning with irresponsible birth parents and subsequent cruel foster parents, Watson's life turned around when an older couple took him under their wings when he was five. From there the little abused boy gradually overcame significant odds to become a successful businessman with his own wife and sons.
When his second son was a year and a bit, Watson's world collapsed. His wife, after a very brief fight for her life, succumbed to leukemia, and he was soon a single dad with two little boys under four.
How he coped and overcame this sorrow will fill your heart.
Fortunately for Watson's audiences, he is as good a speaker as he is a writer. And his is an important message. Men count - they matter to their parents, their wives and their children.
In an age where men are frequently the butt of stupid jokes in the advertising world, it's refreshing to hear a man who has struggled with depression and ego lay bare his soul. His is an epic story of overcoming the odds.
Every year in Canada over 17,000 kids end up in care. Many of these youngsters grow up to a life of crime. Watson wants to see an end to these sad statistics.
He often wonders what would have happened to him if the Watsons hadn't come along when they did.
"Who am I but a small town boy? If I can succeed, anyone can. Even when things are tough, we can always make it up that mountain," he stated.
Watson is an enormous success, earning testimonies from the likes of Rick Hansen (Man in Motion), Pat Williams, senior vice-president of the Orlando Magic, and Peter Legge, CEO Canada Wide Media Ltd., because he dares to say what we all know to be true - you are what you chose to be.
Watson will be on the Sunshine Coast, Thursday, March 1. He will speak at three different events that day including a public fundraiser for the Community Resource Centre at Chatelech Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Sunshine Coast Volunteer Centre in Sechelt or at the Black Bean Roasting Co. in Gibsons for $15 each (cash only). There will be ample opportunity for questions during the evening, and books will be available for sale at the venue by Talewind Books.