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Sep15

We get mail! (The Elton John Oshawa Show Revisited.)

Thursday, 15 September 2011 Author // Bob Leahy - Editor Categories // Arts and Entertainment, Contributors, Performances, Music, Bob Leahy

Following my review of last week’s Elton John concert, a fan left a comment on my blog. Behind that comment is an amazing story. Keri Foley shares that story with us today.

We get mail! (The Elton John Oshawa Show Revisited.)

Keri Foley is the lady in the boa. You may have noticed her in my original post.

I took dozens of shots of the moment when Elton John came back to the stage after exiting with his final number, a raucous Crocodile Rock that, as Spinal Tap would say, turned both the volume and the intensity of this remarkable show up to 11 – and then some. Elton is a gracious man, it’s clear. His warmth when he interacted with the crowd was palpable throughout, but never more so than at this moment near the end of the two hours and thirty-five minute show.

The photos here were taken as he touched hands with the crowd and spent some time signing autographs. Keri Foley, the boa lady, happened to be very prominent in the pictures i took.

Finding my post through Google, she commented as follows:

Mr. Leahy, PLEASE if you have the picture of Elton John taking my book straight out of my hands in a higher resolution could you e-mail it to me! You captured my life’s greatest moment on camera! I am going to turn that picture into a poster and hang it on my wall! The picture I'm looking for is the close up of Elton taking the book out of my left hand, and I have my white cane (blind stick) held out behind me in my right hand. I'm the one wearing the boa! I LOVE you! Thank you so much for taking that shot! I have been trying to get that book to Elton John for 9 years! I made it before I lost my sight and it was my life goal!

The story really intrigued mysellf and publisher Brian Finch too, so I asked Keri to elaborate on it for PositiveLite. Here it is in Keri’s own words.

*******************

The beginning:

I have been a huge Elton John fan basically since the lion king came out in 1994 (I was 7 years old). Ever since then, I have been following Elton’s every move and I bought every album he released right off the shelf. There was always something very different about Elton John that i found fascinating, all my life I wanted to become an animator and hopefully one day work for Disney to maybe work alongside Elton John to create a smash hit, LOL.

The book:

xbobeltonrev1

When i was 14 I had a sudden idea at 3 in the morning to jump out of bed and create an amazing story about me winning a contest to go visit Elton John at his house. For a full year I both wrote and illustrated this story during school hours when i should have been doing my work with the hopes of one day having Elton see my work. Everyone who read this story told me it was a wild adventure - highlights include receiving Elton’s very first pair of glasses, to us jumping out of a malfunctioning helicopter with my parachute pack filled with miscellaneous Elton-esque items (Boas, Glasses, shoes, etc.). The book was such a hit with everyone who read it that I decided to make a part 2, which in my opinion was even better then the first, and my artistic skills were built up a lot more too (Elton John and I take off to New York and get into a lot of trouble) So for nearly 10 years since the first book came out I have been holding onto the book with the shred of hope that one day i could achieve my goal, I have been to two other Elton concerts, including his Las Vegas Red Piano show, where I was up on stage with him while he sang Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting. That's where I got my sunglasses that Elton just happened to wear that night you took my photo! The book was called "Keri's wish"; f you have a lot of patience I could get into far more detail about the book.

My vision:

Now unfortunately for me, my dream of one day becoming an animator was cut short a few weeks into college which also happened to be right after the Elton concert in Vegas (at the time i had literally said that if my sight goes I won't care anymore since I got to see Elton John perform). Up until the age of 21 I was actually visually impaired (blind in one eye and 20/400 vision in the other) so things were already a struggle. I had always admired that Elton John went through his life in an era that was disgustingly against homosexuality, it made me feel like maybe I didn't have it so bad! And he was successful despite this set back! Elton John’s story was the reason I was "OK" with losing my sight, I bounced back within weeks and never looked (pun intended) back.

Oshawa (GM Centre – Elton’s September 9 Show):

So my fiancé managed to get me pretty darn good seats (24th row back) with the hopes that he could help me finally achieve my dream. It was a beautiful performance that Friday night; it's the first solo performance of his I have attended. I was shocked when he played "The One" since he rarely plays that in concert, and it's one of my favourite songs. It was a little annoying to have security not allow any videos to be taken, but we managed to sneak a few lol and there is a pile of them on YouTube that I found. Anyway, the concert was a pure delight and i was torn apart between wanting the performance to last forever, or get to the ending so i could try to get my book to him again! Finally, during Honky Cat, my fiancé Rob noticed people slowly starting to form in front of the stage. "It's time" i thought! Rob grabbed me by the hand and used me as a negative magnet to push our way up (the stick helps). The security guards encouraged us to move ahead when they saw me in my boa with a white cane. We slowly moved up to the stage, and endured a pounding right in front of the speaker to snatch the opportunity to give the book to Elton. When he went off the stage we were hanging on for an encore. He was gone for a long time and we were getting antsy, but as the crowd started dispersing we edged closer to the stage with a ray of hope. When Elton came back for the encore I was SO excited!

xbobeltonrev2

Rob quickly formed a plan, he was going to make me stick out from the crowd by lifting me up, and when Elton came near he was going to squeeze my legs! I think your pictures take the rest of the story from that Original Sin moment! (from the video with Mandy Moore). When i felt the book being pulled from my hands i was in total shock! it was such a tease! Elton was right there and i couldn't see him! Elton signed the book and tried to give it back, but Rob was loud enough to shout that it was a gift for him, That's when he handed the book to his manager and I had a somewhat blackout moment in my excitement!

Also attached to the book was a short autobiography about myself. It included my vision story, how to contact me, an up to date picture of me, and an invite to my wedding in October during his next Vegas tour.

Everyone is in LOVE with your photograph! I blew it up to 24"x36" and framed it in my living room and I get giddy every time I think about it which is every other minute! Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me these shots. You played a BIG part in helping me share my dream moment with everyone! I've been telling everyone your name and i put the link to the blog on Facebook too!

About the Author

Bob Leahy - Editor

Bob Leahy - Editor

Award-winning blogger Bob Leahy first made his social media mark a decade ago on LiveJournal.com where there are still to this day almost 3,000 entries of his available to be read. He was a featured blogger on Ontario’s HIVStigma.com campaign, along with PositiveLite.com founder Brian Finch. He joined PositiveLite.com at its inception in 2009 and became it's Editor a year later.

Born in the UK, Bob’s background is in corporate banking, which he gladly left in 1994, after being diagnosed with HIV the previous year.  He has chaired the board of PARN (Peterborough AIDS Resource Network) and has been an executive board member of both the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) and the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS).  He was inducted in to the Ontario AIDS Network’s Honour Roll in 2005.  Bob is currently a member of Ontario’s GMSH (Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance). He also writes for TheBody.com.

In 2012, Bob was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his work and commitment to HIV/AIDS in Canada.

Bob continues to write for this site while in the Positivelite.Com editor’s seat, with a particular interest  in HIV prevention, theatre and the arts in general. He is accredited media for a number of Toronto theatres. He lives in Warkworth, Ontario with his partner of thirty-two years and three dogs.