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  February 10, 2001



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Saluting a friend


By BRET HART -- Calgary Sun

 Remember when Owen and I were involved in a wrestling angle where we didn't get along?

 Well, it may sound silly now but in those days we did everything we could not to destroy the illusion. It's hard to believe how much things have changed in such a short time.

 We were travelling to the same arenas to wrestle each other, yet we didn't sit together on planes or ride together in cars or share hotel rooms or meals during the TV feud. It's a pity when I think of how much time I lost out on spending with Owen, but protecting the business was natural for us both.

 We'd get home from these long tours, land at the airport eager to get home to our families and usually sail through customs fairly quickly.

 But one time we were detained. We stood in line for a long time and finally I discretely mumbled something to Owen and he replied under his breath. We couldn't have said more than five words between us.

 "Ah-ha! I gotcha!" A woman customs officer emerged from a room where she'd been watching us on a security camera. "I knew you guys talked! I knew it," she smiled.

 Owen and I both cracked up laughing.

 We were amazed when some of the staff at the airport we'd been seeing for years let it slip to us that they'd had a friendly bet as to whether Owen and I were really mad at each other or if it was just part of the wrestling show.

 They'd been watching us on security cameras all over the airport whenever we were there.

 All the behind-the-scenes people do such a fine job of keeping Calgary Airport running smoothly that sometimes they just blend into the woodwork. But I appreciate them all, from the sky caps who give me a friendly hello to the ticket agents so tolerant of my notorious lateness.

 One time a customs officer walked up to me and respectfully asked if I'd help him out with some charity work at Christmas time.

 Sure, I'm happy to help where I can, but in those days of 300 matches a year, by necessity, I did most of my charity work away from home.

 There was something about Ashid Bahl's quiet, unassuming demeanour, yet he had an obviously deep dedication to helping children and I found myself trying to help out in any way that I could.

 I was impressed when I learned that Ashid founded a charity from nothing, one that has grown to help some 30,000 children, not just in Calgary but around the world.

 It helps provide treatment and medication for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. It also helps children who are victims of neglect, abuse, poverty and child labour, not just here in Canada but in Africa, Mexico, India, Philippines, Nepal and Egypt.

 It has been my privilege to be involved with the For The Love of Children Society of Alberta since 1996.

 Last night was the society's 20th anniversary celebration dinner and I want to join a long list of dignitaries who wrote letters of appreciation which were presented to Ashid Bahl.

 Letters arrived from Mayor Al Duerr, Senator Dan Hayes, Premier Ralph Klein and even PM Jean Chretien.

 I am honoured to take part by offering my congratulations to one of the finest, most genuine people I have been fortunate to know.

 Ashid, I wish you continued success in making not just the local community but the global one a better place for everybody. You have created hope and joy where there was only despair; an inspiration to so many.

 'When a candle is used to light another candle, it does not lose its own light. The results are simple: More light! Sometimes we must burn like the candle to give light to others. It will bring greater light not only to those that do not have, it will bring greater light for all.'

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