The annual Easter Seals National Volunteer Awards – announced during National Volunteer Week each year – honours and celebrates the contributions of Canadians from coast to coast who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to Easter Seals’ mission and vision through their volunteerism, time, passion and dedication to Easter Seals.
Easter Seals congratulates the winners of the National Volunteer Awards (2020), and thanks each individual for their contributions to Easter Seals and in helping make Canada a more inclusive society for people of all abilities.
Easter Seals also thanks all of our other volunteers for their dedication, commitment, time and contributions to Easter Seals and their support in advancing Easter Seals mission and vision to enhance the quality of life, well-being and independence of Canadians who are living with disabilities/with diverse abilities.
MESSAGE FROM EASTER SEALS CANADA
“We are incredibly grateful and thankful to our many volunteers across the country for their incredible generosity and service to Easter Seals, and their outstanding commitment to our shared mission and vision. It is thanks to their unwavering and tireless support, along with our partners and donors, that we are – together – able to make a positive and transformative impact in the lives of individuals and families who are living with disabilities and make Canada a truly accessible and inclusive society for all.”
– Dave Starrett, President & CEO of Easter Seals Canada
Read the nomination biographies for each award winner in the links below.
Alberta: John Kittler
When the Calgary Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay started in 1986 John Kittler was a young entrepreneur running his own DJ Service. John was more than happy to donate his time and resources to help the participants “Party with a Purpose” for 24 hours. After a few years of being the DJ, John turned that responsibility over to his two brothers to provide the music and he became a member of the relay committee, then the Chair of the Relay Committee and finally the Relay Director and sponsor of the 24 Hour Relay. The relay had a very successful run for 21 years before we hung up our track shoes.
During the relay years John started his own company “Hyperactive Watersports” and continued to support Easter Seals programs by taking on the Title Sponsorship of the Easter Seals We Care Ball, providing silent auction items and always being there when we needed him. John, his wife Helen and his children Marissa and Chase help volunteer at the Safeway “special day” thus encouraging his children to follow in his charitable footsteps. Since then John has been an avid volunteer and advocate for Easter Seals Alberta, from donating fantastic auction items for our gala to continuing to support Easter Seals annually through both volunteering and always keeping our charity top of mind. John is a wonderful example of what it means to be a long-standing volunteer and advocate.
Help us celebrate John by sharing this incredible story!
John Mould has made a measurable impact over the last 20 years at Easter Seals BC/Yukon (ESBCY) and has shown exemplary leadership in his role and as a passionate advocate for all those impacted and living with diverse abilities in our community. John leads by example, and he does not shy away from tough challenges.
John began his work with Easter Seals in 2001 and was instrumental in a period of change management at ESBCY. For the next four years, John worked tirelessly at guiding ESBCY back from a substantial financial loss, to one with a strong financial position. John worked well beyond a normal work week to ensure the organization could continue to run and provide its programs and services. It’s because of John’s dedication, empathy and hard work that ESBCY continues today. His compassion for the children and families who needed the services of Easter Seals and couldn’t find them anywhere else, was what drove him to lead the organization in a new direction.
John’s clear insight and guiding vision garnered the respect and admiration of staff, so much so, that he was next asked to take the staff and Board of Directors through a strategic review of the organization – a plan that was subsequently approved. From there, John was invited to join the Board of Directors where he took the role of Board Secretary and was a member of the Finance & Audit and Fundraising Committees. His six-year term recently concluded at the end of 2019. Through it all, John continued to go above and beyond by taking part in and attending Easter Seals events and becoming a donor.
For twenty years, John has established a renewed and reinvigorated spirit of cooperation and collaboration at ESBCY. He has captured, through effort and enormous dedication, a brighter and more stable future for ESBCY. It’s because of all his work, his intelligence, vision, leadership and decisiveness, that ESBCY can continue to send children and adults with diverse abilities to summer camp, and provide a home-away-from-home for families, throughout BC and Yukon, who come to Vancouver for medical treatment.
Help us celebrate John by sharing this incredible story!
Scott McMillan started volunteering with SMD/Easter Seals Manitoba (ESMB) in 1995 and has amassed over 2,100 hours. He has gained tremendous understanding of the various programs/services we offer along with the multiple fundraisers he’s participated in over the years.
He has supported our Children and Adult Recreation & Leisure programs as a Summer Access worker and supported special events such as Drop Zone.
Scott’s first fundraiser was the 24-Hour Relay where groups of 10-15 people took turns walking the track 1 hour at a time for 24 hours. He reminisces about the joys of having a bonfire and playing volleyball while waiting for his time to walk. “I also helped out with the setup/take-down of the event, assisted with registration, and cheered people on” he says with a grin.
Next, he was involved in our summer kid’s camps where “We used to get a full week of training ahead of time,” he says. “I got a chance to meet a lot of wonderful kids,” he adds. The camps offer a wide-range of adaptive activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, archery, zip-lining, fishing, field games, etc. Scott said it was a lot of fun and was involved for 10 years before moving into the Adult Recreation and Leisure program.
At birth, Scott was diagnosed with a learning disability. “I grew up around people with learning or physical disabilities,” he says. Having an invisible disability made school challenging. “I found it very hard not only due to my disability, but I was bullied as well.” Over time, the hardships he experienced morphed into compassion and kindness for others who had a disability as he began volunteering in high school. “I can relate to the people I volunteer with,” he says. Scott also joined the Special Olympics track team and was passionate about running for many years “It was my most favourite thing to do.”
When asked why people should volunteer, he answers confidently, “To give back is so important and it feels good. Especially since SMD/ESMB supported me for many years.” He highlights that SMD/ESMB provides a safe environment where it feels good to be around people who care.
Due to so many wonderful experiences Scott’s had over the years, he wants to get the message out to future volunteers, “It’s a great organization. There are man things to do. Come out and volunteer!” he exclaims.
Scott has also gained valuable skills through volunteering. “I’ve improved my communications skills and life skills such as cooking, public speaking, and just encouraging others while having fun and enjoying their company.”
When asked what his favourite part of volunteering is, he says, “Everyone succeeding in their goals, having fun, being safe and communicating.”
Scott’s straight-to-the-point encouraging bit of advice to anyone considering volunteering is, “Go for it, it’s great” he laughs. “It’s never too late!”
Help us celebrate Scott by sharing this incredible story!
Brooke started with Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador as a volunteer camp counsellor during Easter Week of 2019, and from there she fell in love with the organization. Since then she has volunteered as lead volunteer with our Wheelchair basketball program and volunteers with our Let’s Get Active program as well.
Brooke is a dedicated Easter Seals volunteer who leads a lot of activities throughout the year, such as volunteering with our ‘Breakfast with Santa’ event, in which Brooke assisted in serving over 150 Easter Seals participants and their families’ breakfast. She gives her undivided attention to whatever program and participant she is working with. She is actively working toward making Newfoundland and Labrador a more inclusive and barrier free province.
Currently, she is doing a Bachelor of Arts at Memorial University and plans to do Special Education in the future. Brooke brings energy, enthusiasm, and a unique connection to each participant she meets. All of our participants love having Brooke as a volunteer. She is truly representative of what makes Easter Seals such a great organization
Help us celebrate Brooke by sharing this incredible story!
Joan has been an integral part of the growth and success of Easter Seals Nova Scotia (ESNS). Joan joined our Board of Directors in 2005 and served for many years on the Executive Committee. Joan retired from our board in 2019 but not from our organization as she looks to lead our 100th Anniversary Celebration committee.
Over the years, Joan has attended every event, volunteered for races, auctions, dinners, speaking engagements, board recruitment and any other task we asked of her. She truly is a wonderful ambassador for ESNS. She is a wonderful supporter and steward in the community, often bringing her co-workers along for the experience. Joan was instrumental in establishing a permanent work placement at the Port of Halifax for New Leaf trainees over the years. That partnership will continue as Joan retires on April 30th. We are so fortunate to have such a committed volunteer attached to our organization and Joan epitomizes the spirit of giving in her community.
Help us celebrate Joan by sharing this incredible story!
For over 25 years, Mike Kelly has served Easter Seals Ontario through its Windsor-Essex office as an exceptional volunteer, fundraiser, relationship builder and representative of the organization.
Averaging well over $100,000 annually in revenue and new business, Mike has brought $2,000,000+ into the organization through his volunteer career, which would have helped 650 kids directly (assuming avg. equipment grants at $3,000 each) and 65,000 individuals indirectly as a result of those kids serviced and their interactions with family, friends and loved one (1 child x 100 relationships).
Mike is a terrific role model who has lead several committees; more notably our regional Telethon. The local committee for that event is looking for a way to formally recognizing him as, after his 25+ years of service, he will be stepping away to focus on his health and family.
Help us celebrate Mike by sharing this incredible story!
Barry Bradshaw has been a dedicated supporter of Easter Seals fundraising efforts for over four decades. When Whipper Billy Watson first made his cross Canada tour in 1976 to promote snowmobilers raising money for Easter Seals programs through an event called Snowarama, Barry was hooked. Thus, began a lifelong commitment that combined two of Barry’s passions – snowmobiling and supporting children with disabilities through Easter Seals.
Barry’s leadership abilities combined with his compassionate nature have enabled Saskatchewan’s Easter Seals Snowarama to continue to survive and thrive for 43 years. Barry is one of the few individuals left in Saskatchewan who has participated in every Snowarama since it began, as a rider bringing in pledges and organizing committee member. When he was the owner of snowmobile dealership, his business was a corporate sponsor of Snowarama and he encouraged other dealers to join. Serving as the Snowarama Committee Chairman since 1986, Barry personally ensures well thought out groomed trails are in place for the event, key corporate sponsors are secured, volunteers are recruited so snowmobilers enjoy a safe ride and new committee members are being engaged to ensure the event remains relevant to the province. Barry has hosted fellow snowmobilers and corporate sponsors on tours of Camp Easter Seal so they can see their fundraising efforts in action. In addition to Snowarama, Barry also supports and participates in other Easter Seals fundraising activities throughout the year.
When Barry was president of the Saskatchewan Snowmobiling Association (SSA), he ensured Snowarama was well promoted, that other snowmobiling events did not conflict with Snowarama’s dates and resources were made available to support Snowarama. The SSA’s support continues to this day.
It is for his tireless efforts in the snowmobiling industry that Barry has been recognized with many provincial and national awards over the years. These include: in 1988 the South Saskatchewan Snowmobiler of the Year; in 1990 the Special Achievement Award from the National Snowmobile Foundation, in 2005 the Saskatchewan’s Snowmobile Association’s Volunteer of the Year, in 2008 inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame for his overall achievements in the sport of snowmobiling.
Children with disabilities and the Easter Seals fund have benefitted greatly from the fundraising leadership of Barry and all who support Snowarama. To date, Snowarama has raised in excess of $2.3 million in support of Easter Seals.
Barry is an extremely positive role model to community members on how to marry one’s passion to a fundraising cause. There is little wonder why Barry is known as Mr. Snowarama in Saskatchewan.
Help us celebrate Barry by sharing this incredible story!
Help us honour and celebrate the contributions of these outstanding volunteers and their commitment to supporting Easter Seals, and individuals and families living with disabilities by making a donation to your local Easter Seals!
Easter Seals Canada is proud to be accredited by Imagine Canada’s Standards Program for excellence in financial accountability and transparency, board governance, fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement.