Every once in a while you meet someone who completely and positively changes your perspective on, well, everything.
For me, one of those someones was Claire Wineland.
Meeting her was like taking in the biggest, purest breath of fresh air and immediately finding myself caught in a vortex of infinite possibilities. The experience was mesmerizing and one I’ll never forget. From the moment Claire walked into the room, I could sense the incredible energy that surrounded her and would take hold of everyone around her. In that moment, I couldn’t help but think about two important ideologies that many of us take for granted:
- that anything is possible; and
- that the perspectives in which we are grounded need to be challenged from time to time.
You see, Claire was diagnosed at birth with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). At the tender young age of 13, after coming out of a medically-induced coma and being given a one percent chance of survival, Claire established Claire’s Place Foundation to help children and families like her’s. She started her YouTube channel and started speaking at events across the continent, inspiring everyone in her path with her honest, charming, and often hold-nothing-back, raw accounts of what it’s like to live with CF.
But I think at the heart of her talks was her desire to inspire everyone — including us in the healthcare industry — to shift our attitudes about patients from that of ‘pity to empowerment. To inspire us to live our lives with impact, not despite our circumstances but because of your them. By example, Claire taught us that the quality of our lives is not determined by whether we are sick or healthy, rich or poor, but rather by what we do with our lives and what we give of these experiences’.
Sadly, Claire passed away on August 28th after complications from receiving a double-lung transplant. She was 21.
We, at Klick, were incredibly fortunate to have gotten to know Claire and introduce her to our industry peers at two of our events – the first being one of our Klick MUSE events in New York and then at one of our monthly company breakfast meetings. Both times, she captivated the audience in a way few speakers can and was a source of unforgettable inspiration, positivity, bravery, and possibility.
She was so brilliant and mature, it could sometimes be easy to forget how young she was — a fact I was reminded of when I introduced Claire and her mom to poutine at a restaurant one night. Like the old adage goes, she was as excited “as a kid in a candy store” to experience everything the city had to offer, including the french-fry delicacy in all its cheesy goodness! She soaked in every moment and lived it to its fullest and meeting her was a gift. We will miss her.
For me, knowing Claire enriched my life and has made me more reflective on my own perspectives, on how I approach the challenges of my day and how I engage with the experiences I encounter. I find myself asking if we, like Claire, make the most of everything we do, not in spite of our challenges but because of them. And what impact do the hours of our days and the work that we do truly have?
We are proud of the work that we do every single day with our clients in the life-sciences industry and we are even more proud of the positive impact our work has on the patients they serve to allow all of them to be empowered. And so, as a tribute to Claire, I ask you to reflect on your own perspectives and answer the same question:
How are you making an impact, not despite your challenges but because of them?