What began as an idea over a cup of coffee with a friend for a Comox Valley resident has now turned into Lei Day – a day to celebrate joy, give back to the community and help others.
The idea for John Ludlow, the man many in the Valley have spotted in his bright yellow 1966 Ford Mustang convertible seasonally decorated with a kayak and other sculptures, came from celebrating a very important day in his life – May 5.
“I was almost homeless myself; I lost a lot of money and I was a few thousand dollars short of being homeless in Winnipeg, so I want to give back,” he explained, as he stood next to his vehicle which is dressed in a styrofoam salmon, sunscreen and a beer can from a local brewery.
On Lei Day, Ludlow hopes many people will sport a Hawaiian lei and commit to doing one random act of kindness for a stranger, whether that is buying a meal for someone, paying for a drive-thru order or holding the door open for someone.
“I suffered a very severe mental health crisis in Winnipeg. I wound up in and out of the psych ward for 15 months … with an incredible amount of anxiety and depression – it was awful,” said Ludlow. “Now I’m medication-free. May 5 I got out of bed without any trace of anxiety and not a trace of depression and I can honestly say I haven’t had a moment since – May 5 is the day that brought me unlimited joy and happiness.”
He added wearing a lei provides him with joy and confidence, and is a good conversation piece. He wants to celebrate the day with others, for a good cause.
Using carnations, Ludlow is making leis for sale for $20 each, with all proceeds to be donated to the Comox Valley Transition Society.
He will be selling them on Sunday, May 2, all day at Goose Spit Park. To purchase a lei at another time, visit his website at theflowerman.ca.
Ludlow decided upon leis following a party on the beach last year.
“A fellow co-worker when I drove a school bus asked me to use (Mustang Sally) in her son’s graduation … we had a party on Kin Beach. She made an amazing cake. We celebrated on the beach and I brought a whole bunch of Hawaiian leis to wear, and I haven’t taken them off since.”
Ludlow is also the administrator of the Comox Valley Social Experiment Facebook page where he shares ideas, projects and events.
He is hoping Lei Day is the first of many in the Valley and is aiming to sell other memorabilia including t-shirts to help others across Vancouver Island and the country.