Brother-sister duo speak at We Day

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 20, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

We Day took Ottawa and the Canadian Tire Centre by storm as thousands upon thousands of Ottawa students of all ages flooded the stadium with enough energy that could have raised the roof.

Manotick’s Tommy and Melanie Glatzmayer made their community proud as they took to the stage to share their story of how a six year old boy decided to take a stand, make a change, and be the voice for his sister Melanie, who was diagnosed at age three with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), a very rare syndrome that causes physical and mental challenges. That day back in Grade 1, where Tommy refused to tolerate his sister being teased for being different, changed the course of the inseparable brother-sister duo’s lives forever.  What ensued were two best-selling books, co-written with their mother, Nathalie Wendling, countless presentations to schools across all 10 provinces, tours across the United States, all spreading their message of acceptance and inclusion.

It was that very message that was the perfect fit for the national We Day event, and led to Tommy being invited to be a speaker that day, where newly inaugurated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, gave his first official speech as PM.

For young Tommy and his sister Melanaie, this was an experience they will never forget. A seasoned speaker at the ripe age of 12 years old, Tommy was broadsided when he learned that Melanie was feeling ill, and may not make it to the event they had so been looking forward to. He could not imagine facing the stage and the thousands of students without her. Disappointed and devastated, Tommy headed to We Day with his father, John Glatzmayer, but the event would not be the same without Melanie by his side. In an unexpected turn, Melanie decided she had to be there, and had her mother take her to the event as soon as possible. Miraculously, she made it to the stage, just in time to be there alongside her brother. It is a moment the family will remember and cherish forever.

“I got emotional at the first presentation,” said Nathalie Wendling, “and I continue to get emotional each time they are in front of an audience. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to hold it together for We Day.”

If there were any nerves about speaking to such a huge audience, Tommy had no sign of jitters. Melanie was excited and not nervous at all.

“She watches High School Musical movies over and over…  she must think everyone ends up on stage eventually in life, and it’s now her turn,” explained Wendling. “I was more nervous than both kids. I had not slept in a week. I cried for the first 60 presentations. I cried when they finished their cross Canada tour. I cried at every award. I cried when they presented to their first high school audience and at Queen’s University… I could not imagine how my mascara could ever survive We Day.”

Tommy’s moving speech had the crowd roaring. He shared his story of making a difference, and how two pet rats helped his sister learn how to pronounce letters, and helping her speak.

“I love my sister. She is a hero for all of the obstacles she has had to overcome. Small things can build a community of support, acceptance and love. All you have to do is if you see someone who is different, smile and say hi, please. As a community, we can do the little things that can change a life.”

The crowd was cheering as Tommy continued, “ little actions of compassion and care will make a huge difference in the lives of others. Please give that support to someone who really needs it!”  He then turned the microphone over to Melanie who said, “thank you We Day!”

We Day has become a national event, whose mission is to provide an opportunity for young people to come together,  connect and empower a new generation to shift the world from me to we—from a focus on the individual to the power of community.

We Day brings together world-renowned speakers and performers with stands packed with young social innovators to honour their contributions and kick-start another year of change. More than a one-day event, We Day is connected to the yearlong We Schools program, which offers educational resources and campaigns to help young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained action.

You can’t buy a ticket to We Day. Thanks to generous sponsors, the event is free to attend. Young people earn their way by participating in We Schools and taking action on the issues that matter most to them. Some students collect food for homeless shelters. Others raise money to build classrooms overseas.

We Day and We Schools empower young people to find their passion and create the change they want to see. By taking action on one local and one global cause, students are equipped with the tools to succeed academically, in the workplace and as active citizens.

For more info about we day, visit their web site at For more info about Tommy and Melanie and their two pet rats, visit




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