A Whale with Wings

A Whale with Wings
Mural of Ed Lahti and Walter The Whale with Wings
Mural of Ed Lahti and Walter The Whale with Wings

 

In 2012, Quincy Gow, originally from Lansing, was living in New York and working on various films and television shows when he found out his childhood friend, Eddie Lahti, was diagnosed with NET cancer. He was in such shock that he started to re-evaluate his career and life in New York. With his mother’s health in decline and his best friend being sick, Quincy decided to return to his Midwestern roots. Upon re-establishing himself in Michigan, he started spending his weekends with Eddie and his fiancé Jennifer, in Lansing. Quincy noticed that Eddie had become very ambitious about wanting to accomplish something with his life and being able to provide for his family.

Eddie had been wanting to share his idea for a children’s book about a sea-bound whale who yearns to fly and continues his quest despite discouragement from others when Quincy had an idea. Inspired by his best friend’s resilience and optimism, he decided to make a documentary about Eddie finishing his first children’s book while battling cancer. The two started filming in November 2012 despite the rapid growth of tumors throughout Eddie’s body. While his prognosis looked bleak, Eddie remained in high spirits thriving off creativity and expression. He began working on drawings, while Quincy filmed, and the friends began to see the story of Walter come to life. Unfortunately, Eddie’s health took a turn for the worse a few days after Christmas 2012 when his kidneys began to fail. Determined to finish Eddie’s story about Walter, Quincy contacted a good friend of his, Melissa Frost, from New York to finish the artwork. With the help of family, friends, a successful Kickstarter campaign, and a few hundred newfound fans, Eddie was able to hold a printed copy, complete with illustrations, of “Walter a Whale with Wings” 48 hours prior to losing his battle with cancer.  Quincy describes it as “an amazing accomplishment and a testament to how much he was cared for by those around him.”

Quincy plans to have his documentary “Ed’s Whale” finished in early 2015 when it will be presented to Eddie’s family. His hope is to have the film brought to numerous festivals after being premiered in Lansing. Above else, he hopes that the movie is a vehicle that brings Eddie’s work to a larger audience.

Quincy has teamed up with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who has agreed to give 100% of the profits raised through the fundraiser to NET Cancer research in Eddie’s name as his way of giving back. NET Cancer, also known as neuroendocrine tumors, is an umbrella term for a group of unusual cancers which develop from cells in the diffuse endocrine system. NET cancer affects all individuals differently, but has a high fatality rate and does not receive a lot of attention or funding.

YOU can make a whale of a difference by supporting Eddie’s Whale and NET Cancer Research. “Walter a Whale with Wings” can be purchased at Everybody Reads on Michigan Avenue in Lansing, MI or online. Everybody Reads also has a variety of clothing options sporting “Walter” produced through Flavored Threads in Lansing. Clothing can also be purchased online through November 30, 2014 at http://custom.flavoredthreads.com/shopwalterswings.

Amongst everything I’ve learned throughout writing this article about Eddie’s drive and his story about Walter, one thing has stood out above them all; he was an incredibly passionate person who was supported by some pretty great Michiganders, including Quincy. Besides that, Eddie and Quincy sound like the type of friends we’d all like to have in our lives.

Here’s a little more about the friendship between Quincy and Eddie in Quincy’s own words:

What is your favorite memory of Eddie?

There are so many.  It is difficult to choose a favorite.  I could go back to our early years when we would hang out in East Lansing and he would spend hours playing Medieval Madness or Mars Attacks.  He was a pinball wizard.  Or, the time we saw Beastie Boys play with Tribe Called Quest on their Hello Nasty tour with our friend Jack and his brother Billy.  We stayed up in the bleachers instead of rushing the floor and danced the entire time while everyone around us stood still and simply watched.  Or, how he had hooked up a PA system to his mini-van under the hood and we drove around Ann Arbor with me crunched down in the passenger seat.  He would describe people and I would use the mic to tell random people that I was their father in my best James Earl Jones voice.  But most importantly were the times he was simply there for me as a friend.  When he came to the hospital while my mother was sick to see how I was doing.  Or the time I hit a turkey on I-94 and he drove all the way to Paw Paw to give me a ride home.  But some of my favorite memories were of him towards the end.  When we started this project his excitement was through the roof.  He had no intention of dying and he squeezed every ounce of life out of the last year of his life.  He was an inspiration.

What was your favorite thing to do together in Mid Michigan?

This sounds pretty basic. But whenever I would come home, we would go to Stober’s or Green Door on Michigan Ave. Hang out. Like friends do. He quit drinking in 2011, but he still wanted to go to the bar. For him, he just like being around people. It was never about drinking. We also played Frisbee golf a lot. I lost two of his brand new discs one day, but we found three while searching for the ones I lost. So it was all good.

What do you hope people remember Eddie for?

Passion.  He let it come through in his writing.  He was a prolific poet.  People who knew him personally will have the memories they shared with him.  But for those he never knew, his writing is what should be shared.  He should be remembered as an artist of the written word, first and foremost.

 

Walter on the Grand Haven Pier. Photo Courtesy of Ed's Whale.
Walter on the Grand Haven Pier. Photo Courtesy of Ed’s Whale.