Tragedy hits home in the holiday season

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

At a time when we are all obsessing about the Maple Leafs' seven game losing streak or the health of Raptor Chris Bosh -- not to mention the fact that the clock is ticking towards Christmas and therefore the shopping to be done -- we get a gut check.

We hear a frightening story of tragedy at sea.

When word first broke of a 25-year-old woman swept off the rear of a Nova Scotia tall ship by a rogue wave hundreds of miles off Cape Cod -- it seemed an unimaginable horror.

How horrible for this family to be so helpless, fearing the worst, at a time when others are focused on parties and hanging decorations.

Just the thought of this nameless girl all alone in deep waters, at night, for hours on end -- it is truly the stuff of nightmares.

Sunday the story went from faceless to far too close to home.

That anonymous "young woman" became so real to sports fans everywhere when it was released that it was Laura Gainey, daughter of NHL hall of famer and Montreal Canadiens Executive VP and GM Bob Gainey, who was swept away.

This is a paradigm shift in its truest form.

I do not know Bob Gainey personally, nor have I met Laura, but if you are like me, you feel as though you do.

People passionate about sports cultivate a connection akin to family to the greats who play or have played the games and as such we feel the pain of this tragedy as if it happened to us.

It's so easy to get caught up in the trivial -- the Leafs playoff chances, the Blue Jays finding a few good arms or when in the world you are going to find the time to do your Christmas shopping.

Eventually the shopping will be done, the wins will come, the injured will heal and the games will go on with or without Vernon Wells.

Let the reality of the Laura Gainey story serve as a reminder to appreciate the gifts of family and friends during this holiday season. Call your mom.

Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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