Team Canada’s Sara Kaljuvee powers her way through a number of Fijian defenders at the the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series at the Westhills stadium in Langford back in April. Gazette reporter Arnold Lim appreciated being able to tell Kaljuvee's personal story earlier this year.

OUR VIEW: Favourite West Shore stories of the year

Reporter Arnold Lim recalls moments from a memorable 2015

I am so fortunate to be a photojournalist.

That is never more evident to me than when I cascade down the photos I have taken and stories I have written throughout the year. It’s always a friendly reminder of how lucky I am to do what I do, and meet the people I meet.

There is no way to fit every one of those many great experiences into a single annual column, but I’ll mention a few chance encounters with pillars in our community that left me feeling especially impressed in 2015.

One such person was Sara Kaljuvee, whom I interviewed in February. An Ontario-born rugby player playing and training out of the national team facility in Langford, she has lived and trained far from family who live out east, including her ailing mother Lynn.

Kaljuvee, who was in Grade 7 when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, said a big reason why she wanted so badly to succeed was ton honour her mother, whose diagnosis was terminal.

Months later, while I worked at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, a chance meeting with Kaljuvee, this time in her hometown, reminded me of this story.  I watched in awe as she and the national Canadian Women’s Sevens Rugby team went undefeated en route to winning the gold medal.

I am always in awe of Canadians who go above and beyond and Kaljuvee proved it in front of her mother. It was a lesson in resilience and a reminder of the way some people sacrifice to represent their country and their families on the world stage.

Running almost concurrently to the Pan Am Games was the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, where Langford resident Jeremy Cheverie also represented Canada on the world stage.

The 38-year-old athlete earned a spot on the soccer team – the only Island athlete to do so – and helped his five-a-side team to a fourth-place finish in July.

Sometimes we don’t take the time to see the talent that is right under our noses, including Cheverie, a Thrifty Foods employee whom some of us may have seen quietly working at the store.

During the Special Olympics World Games, he was one of more than 7,000 athletes, joining 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries and 30,000 volunteers in one of the biggest events of its kind.

Jeremy’s humble modesty was another reminder that our community is a source of national and international pride, sometimes receiving little fanfare.

This year’s favourites list is sport heavy, ending with powerlifting senior citizen Stephanie Needham. I weigh almost 270 lbs. and it was stunning to learn not only that the 58-year-old Langford resident can deadlift more than me, she could actually deadlift my weight. Spending time with the mild-mannered bookkeeper-by-day and powerlifter- by-night made me want to do some squats before leaving the gymnasium after our shoot, even though I didn’t.

This year I met some of the most interesting, talented, hard-working and interesting individuals in our communities. Seeing them do what they do certainly pushed me throughout the year in an attempt to keep up in my own way.

It’s a privilege and an honour to serve the West Shore communities and I look forward to another year of doing just that.

Look for next week’s article as another Gazette staffer shares their favourite stories.

Just Posted

Bear shot with crossbow arrow believed dead

BC Conservation, police track injured black bear’s blood trail near Lost Lake Road

Bank robber targets Langford RBC

RCMP say robber produced a note, left with cash

Oak Bay plants new program for National Tree Day

Tree canopy grows from final wishes of community association founder

Sign language rescuers among citizens receiving VicPD awards

VicPD bestows Civic Service Awards to members of the public

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Pettersson has 4 points as Canucks dump Ottawa 6-4

Vancouver wins NHL pre-season tilt in Abbotsford

British man returns to Yukon to tipple his own toe in long-running tradition

So-called sourtoe cocktail is a shot of whisky with a mummified human toe in it

Poll suggests Canadians concerned about fake news, but struggle to spot it

56 per cent of respondents admitted to reading or sharing inaccurate news

Province announces $3.5 million in funding for community solutions to overdose crisis

Grants up to $50,000 will be available for municipalities working with a regional health authority

Conservatives’ plan to ease mortgage stress-test rules may raise debt and prices

Andrew Scheer vows to loosen rules around stress test and remove it altogether for mortgage renewals

B.C. mom urges patience after rude comments while out with toddlers

People asked to be better and to help each other

U.S. wrestler says viral speeding ticket video was staged

WWE wrestler Lacey Evans says she does not condone disrespecting law enforcement officers

‘Own a piece of history’: Beachcombers location Molly’s Reach up for sale

‘This is one of B.C.’s most photographed buildings’

Most Read