Donor Testimonials

"Because my employer has added HealthPartners to its campaign, I feel I can help directly. I feel a direct connection with the people I wish to help, which is very gratifying."

- David Tardif, Behaviour Interactive

“I support HealthPartners when donating to the GCWCC because as a federal government worker I understand the effects of these diseases on our healthcare system and tax-payers dollars. On a personal level I choose to donate to HealthPartners because I have been impacted by many of the diseases that the 16 foundations that they support. Without these foundations many Canadians would be at a lost for support during some of their most challenging times.”

- Samantha Darrach
Government of Canada Employee

"The difference with HealthPartners is that our employees can choose: we wanted to give them the opportunity to donate to one or more causes close to their hearts. That way they know where their money goes. The company’s trust in HealthPartners has spread to employees: they can donate with complete confidence."

- François Bolduc, Vice-President: Finance, Bell Helicopter

"We all know somebody with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, or a heart problem. Being able to give to all these organizations easily, through my employer, is something I really appreciate."

- Cynthia Denault, Bell Helicopter

“The important work of the HealthPartners organizations is critical to the future care of our families. Help them help us! Donate.”

- Charles Keliher
Government of Canada Employee

“I suffered a stroke at age 39. I am regaining my life back with the help of the Heart & Stroke Foundation.  As a survivor, I would encourage you to donate at work through HealthPartners to the Heart & Stroke Foundation. The monies collected are used for education and awareness; something very important to survivors, their families and friends.”

- Jen Bogart
Government of Canada Employee

"I have always donated to various organizations, but now that the company is campaigning, giving through payroll deductions is much easier. What’s more, my employer doubles the amount, which is very helpful."

- Brigitte Grégoire, Buyer, Lassonde Industries

"HealthPartners was included in the Lauzon campaign at the request of our employees. A great many of them felt concern for the healthcare cause. Having a choice means that employees feel that their decision to donate is respected. Everybody feels involved in the campaign."

- Gabriella Ferraro, Assistant to the President, Lauzon Planchers Exclusifs

“I am thankful for the members of HealthPartners to help me, my friends, family and neighbours. Giving to this campaign ensures that my donation is used for research and support of 16 diseases rather than having to choose only a few.”

- Lena Webster
Government of Canada Employee

Ten years ago, John Farrell was still reeling from the news that his then-21-year-old son Ryan had type 1 diabetes when he received a second shock three months later — he was at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Later this summer father and son are participating in a half-marathon in Reykjavik for Team Diabetes, Diabetes Canada’s national activity program that raises funds for diabetes education, services, advocacy and research.

“Training for a race is a big challenge, especially when you have diabetes. I do it because I know that exercise is prolonging my life and that I’m conquering the disease.” - Ryan Farrell

Debbie Kleibor hadn’t been feeling well for weeks when her symptoms worsened and she was rushed to hospital. Tests revealed that she had non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, the most severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fortunately, her brother David was a match. Only two months after her transplant, Debbie amazed family and friends by taking part in the Canadian Liver Foundation’s Stroll for Liver event in Ottawa.

“Having been taken by surprise by my diagnosis, I am committed to raising awareness and helping to raise funds for liver research so others will not have to go through what I did.”

Jennifer Molson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 21. After years of struggling with the effects of the disease, Jennifer had an opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that ultimately led to her second chance at life. She regained complete ability and was able to return to work full-time — thanks to research by the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation, which funds large, innovative, multi-centre collaborative studies that lead to major advances like this one. The MS Society of Canada is the main funding resource for the Foundation.

“Now, here I am — walking, skiing, kayaking; independent, working full-time, married after having danced at my wedding. I have been living relapse-free for 14 years, and it’s because of the Canadian Bone Marrow Transplantation trial.”

Andrea Hopkins, who lives in Ottawa, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2006. Two years later, her disease took a turn for the worst and she was hospitalized for 3 months. Since then, she has learned to live well with her disease and help others as a Gutsy Peer Support mentor, an online peer support program at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

“The peer-to-peer support made available through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada helped me come to terms with having ulcerative colitis. My colon was eventually removed, but thanks to medical advances, I was able to receive reversal surgery instead of wearing an ostomy bag for the rest of my life.”

Jessica Koop received $5,000 from the Canadian Hemophilia Society to go toward her Masters of Education in educational leadership at Vancouver Island University. The CHS James Kreppner Memorial Mature Bursary is awarded to outstanding applicants who thrive despite the stress of living with hemophilia. Jessica has had hemophilia her whole life, along with her father, who tragically passed away when she was only 8 years old. Though she did not have many bleeding issues as a child, Jessica did have complications in her pregnancy at the age of 30. It is still unknown whether her daughter is a carrier.

“The CHS bursary significantly lightens my financial burden as I return to university to embark on a new career in education. I can now focus on the most important aspect of school — learning. Hard work, dedication and effort are things I wish to model for my daughter. My heartfelt thanks go to the Canadian Hemophilia Society for selecting me as the recipient of this generous award.”

It is hard to imagine a world without medical research to treat and cure diseases that can even affect a newborn baby. After his jaundice refused to subside, Emmett’s parents were flown from their hometown in the Yukon to B.C., where they were given the devastating news that their 6-week-old boy had stage 3 liver hepatoblastoma. Thankfully, Emmett’s father was a match and could be his living donor. The liver transplant was successful, and Emmett’s mother will be forever grateful to the Canadian Liver Foundation, which funds the type of medical research ultimately responsible for her child’s survival.

“May 11, 2015, was the longest day on Earth for me as my two loves underwent surgery. Thankfully all went very successfully. Today, Emmett is your typical healthy 2-year-old, who loves cars and bugging his siblings. He is full of hugs and attitude. I fought hard to stay positive through it all and I am so grateful that our story had a happy ending.”

One aspect of living with chronic disease that is often overlooked is the daily necessity of informing those around you about your condition. Rhys Watson had to educate his teachers and peers about his hemophilia when he was just 14 years old. Moving to Whitehorse meant he would often find himself in isolated areas, 2 to 5 hours from the nearest nursing station. The Canadian Hemophilia Society helps kids like Rhys understand their condition so they can educate others how to handle an emergency situation.

“When I look back over this past year and our move to the Yukon, I don’t believe I would have been as successful in teaching others about my bleeding disorder if it wasn’t for the efforts of many people over the years. Training at Canadian Hemophilia Society summer camps and family weekends has made me stronger.”

It is one of The Arthritis Society’s missions to educate people living with arthritis as well as government decision-makers on the impact of certain drugs used to treat arthritis. One such class of medicine called biologics proved a life saver for a young hockey player, Blake Knoll, who spent every day in excruciating pain until he started an infusion every 2 weeks. Blake is now a dedicated volunteer for the Society.

"By the second dose, there was a very noticeable difference to me, and by the third and fourth doses, I was 'normal' again. It became easier for me to maintain weight after that, which is something I had struggled with while taking other medications."

She never thought in a million years that she wouldn’t be able to run again, let alone deal with the constant exhaustion and brain fog she says is a daily struggle. Despite these roadblocks, Kim has managed to write several novels about her experiences with MS and refers to her newfound love of writing as a new form of running. Though Kim can’t run anymore, she walks every year in the MS Walk, put on by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

“MS Walk is a place where people affected by MS can be comfortable and surround themselves in a community of like-minded people who are fundraising to find a cure. Who knows, at the rate that MS research is advancing, we may find more answers sooner than we think. I walk because I believe we will find a cure. I walk to end MS.”

As a person with severe hemophilia and an inhibitor, Craig recognized early in his life the importance of the Canadian Hemophilia Society to his future care and treatment. His parents — volunteers for the local chapter — taught Craig the importance of being an active advocate in his care. Today, he is the president and board chair of the Society.

“It has been an honour to be the president and board chair of the Canadian Hemophilia Society for the last six years; the time has been both challenging and rewarding.”

Judy Wright was just 52 years old when she was diagnosed with stage-one primary biliary cholangitis, a progressive autoimmune disease of the liver. Though Judy considers herself lucky to have been diagnosed early, she remains hopeful that research funded by the Canadian Liver Foundation may one day find a cure that will free herself and others from the debilitating symptoms of liver disease.

“Unfortunately, fatigue often rules my life. Daily naps are almost imperative. In addition, despite having had a career as a banker and holding several positions on community boards, there are times now that my ‘foggy brain’ makes me feel stupid.”

Dwayne “Bubba” Vermette sank into a deep depression and gained a lot of weight after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his 30s. However, with the help of family and health-care professionals, he has made the journey back to health. Today, Bubba walks five kilometres every day. In 2011, he started “Bubba’s Journey,” a 100-kilometre fundraising walk he does regularly for Diabetes Canada. He has clocked 500 kilometres, lost 107 pounds, has not taken insulin for the past eight years, and just takes two oral diabetes medications.

“I remember going out for supper with my wife, Erin, and thinking this was the last good meal I was ever going to have. I realized that if I didn’t make a change, I wasn’t going to continue being on earth for long. When I was first diagnosed and people told me that exercise would help, I didn’t take it seriously, but once I made the choice to get healthy, everything fell into place.”

A competitive dancer, Kelsey Chomistek was only 15 years old when abnormal bloodwork led to the discovery of polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Forced to quit dancing despite her best efforts to keep up with her peers, Kelsey has developed a strong desire to help others like her who suffer from this debilitating disease. In her ideal future, she is a clinical rheumatologist, of which there are currently as few as 350 practising in Canada — a problem The Arthritis Society is looking to rectify with scholarships and career training programs.

“I want to go into medical school, largely due to the fact that I’ve dealt with arthritis. I experienced isolation in my dance community because my teachers didn’t understand my arthritis. The idea that arthritis is for older people creates isolation for younger people who have it.”

MS Bike, an annual cycling event hosted by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, brings together cyclists from across the country to ride in the battle against multiple sclerosis. It’s been five years since Patrycia Rzechowka took part in her first ride and five years since she was diagnosed with the disease. Since becoming such an active member of the MS community, Patrycia has developed strong relationships with others who have been affected by the disease and is committed to doing her part to end MS by fundraising for the MS Society of Canada, which funds about $10 million in research every year.

“It’s difficult to hear about relapses affecting people I’ve grown to love. Sometimes it makes me feel helpless, like I can’t do anything for them. But that feeling pushes me to keep going, knowing that fundraising for and doing these rides will help accelerate research and eventually find a cure. Five years ago, the only treatment options for me were injections. Seeing progress in new research initiatives like the Progression Cohort Study and breakthroughs from studies like Dr. Metz’s gives me hope.”

Even before he developed diabetes, Ryley Sather knew that his family history put him at risk. His diagnosis came a lot earlier than he expected, at age 19. Since then, Ryley, 27, has helped organize Diabetes Canada Lace Up for Diabetes runs in Saskatoon. He also runs with Team Diabetes, Diabetes Canada’s national activity program that promotes a healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes, and raises funds for diabetes education and services, advocacy and research.

“I ran a marathon with the team in Iceland, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever done in my life. It’s great to see people coming out and having a good time, and knowing that you’re raising money for a good cause is as rewarding as it gets.”

While on vacation in 2015, Taylor told his father he had blood in his urine. What was believed to be a simple urinary tract infection turned out to be autoimmune hepatitis. The Canadian Liver Foundation is committed to funding promising research projects that may one day cure many forms of liver disease, including autoimmune hepatitis.

“Our son’s own immune system was attacking his liver. Medication that suppresses his immune system can keep it under control. There is no cure and no known cause to this disease.”

Growing up, Brenda was so afraid she would inherit Huntington’s disease from her mother that she made important life decisions based on the possibility of getting sick. Since deciding not to let fear control her life, Brenda makes the best of every day. She reached out to the Saskatoon chapter of the Huntington Society of Canada to connect with other people who face similar challenges and struggles.

“As a young woman, you wonder if somebody is going to love you and want to be your life partner, knowing what could happen to you. You wonder about having children. We need resources in place so that young people can get information, feel safe asking questions and connect with other people who share their fears.”

Emersyn’s parents noticed she was limping when she was 18 months old. She was crying every day from pain and suddenly regressed to not being able to walk or crawl. After six weeks of taking her to several doctors, they received the official diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

“We fully support The Arthritis Society. Our little girl and everyone else who is affected by this debilitating disease need a cure!”

Hemophilia has changed Calen’s life. After being diagnosed at 9 years old, he had to stop engaging in activities due to risk of injury and joint bleeds. Then, at the age of 13, Calen started prophylactic treatments at the Saskatchewan Bleeding Disorders Clinic, a partner of the Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Hemophilia Society.

“At the clinic I learned how to self-infuse and identify injuries that required treatment. I am extremely thankful to my parents for being persistent that I had ’something medically wrong’ and for supporting me through this life-changing event.”

People like Ivory received ongoing support and resources from The Arthritis Society’s Ontario division. Once a competitive gymnast and dancer, Ivory was forced to use a four-pronged cane when osteoarthritis put an end to her career. After additional diagnoses of psoriatic arthritis and sacroilitis, she decided to take control of her life. Five years later, with the help of the Society, Ivory now walks without a cane.

“When I was ready, The Arthritis Society was there for me. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported this wonderful organization. You have helped give me back control of my life.”

Odd behaviour and a sense that he just wasn’t himself led Kim and her family to seek a diagnosis for her father. He would only have 2 months to live when the family discovered that he had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rapidly degenerative brain disorder. The Alzheimer Society of Canada was there for Kim; through its First Link program, she was able to get through this difficult period in her life. 

“I didn’t really know where to go for help, but I knew the signs of dementia. That’s when I reached out to the Alzheimer Society for support. I started going to the First Link learning series, then to counselling, which was so helpful. The Society helped me understand the disease and how to mitigate various behaviours. I also received practical advice on such things as power of attorney matters.”

Those who carry the Huntington’s disease gene have a 50% chance of passing it on to their child. Hank Patterson, who lives with Huntington’s, found out he had the gene soon after marrying his wife. When Sharanie became pregnant, they had their baby tested in vitro — who, thankfully, is not a carrier. It was the happiest day of Hank’s life. He remains hopeful that research funded by the Huntington Society of Canada will one day lead to a cure and save others from living with this disease, which robbed his mother of her personality and dignity.

Huntington’s is a horrible disease. It affects your memory and your personality. It takes away your dignity and it destroys families. But I do believe that in 10 or 15 years, researchers will find a way to delay the onset or stop it from progressing. They may even cure it, but just giving people an extra 10 years would be huge. Investing in research gives families hope — and having hope is so important.”

Michael Bosompra was a Canadian Hemophilia Society delegate at the World Federation of Hemophilia’s Congress, the largest international meeting for the global bleeding disorders community. Together, the Society and the Federation strive to provide people like Michael with opportunities to connect with others who suffer from a bleeding disorder and to advocate for themselves.

“I was struck by the maturity and sense of responsibility of these young folks — the understanding of our role in advocacy and the reality that if we don’t do it, no one else will. Someone said to me advocacy is not always sexy but it’s literally life and death so we need to be our own advocates. I couldn’t agree more!”

When Blake Bell was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at age 50, he knew he wanted to do his part to find a cure. He organized his own Parkinson’s SuperWalk, the largest nationwide fundraising event for Parkinson Canada, raising thousands of dollars in the process and being named Parkinson SuperWalk’s first ever national hero in 2016. Apart from the funds Blake has raised to help Parkinson Canada in its search for a cure, he feels that this event helped him come to terms with his condition.

I started to participate in the SuperWalk because I wanted to support Parkinson’s research. I also wanted to tell people about the disease and ask them to help me in that search for a cure. It was a time in my life when I wanted to share my Parkinson’s with people who did not know about my condition. The overwhelming support I received from friends and family helped me feel comfortable in public. In many ways, participating in the SuperWalk has been a part of my healing process.”

Sharon Fraser is especially grateful to the New Brunswick Lung Association for being there for her when she was diagnosed with chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder. Once known simply as emphysema, this disease affects 55,000 New Brunswickers.

“I have found the staff at the Association to be knowledgeable and easy to talk to, which is so important, especially when you’ve been first diagnosed. Their slogan, When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters, says it all.”   

Brier winner Jack MacDuff was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a time when treatment options were still in trial stages. Nearly 30 years later, though he can’t ride a bike, Jack takes part in the MS Bike Tour every year, achieving the event’s top fundraiser status for three years running and raising more than $66,000 for the MS Society of Canada. He also developed a raffle draw that all Atlantic event participants can use to fundraise. The raffle raises more than $20,000 a year and Jack is thrilled every time he hears the totals that always surpass his expectations.

“When you have limits, you just adjust your goals and dreams accordingly. What I’d like to say to anyone, whether it’s a young athlete, an underdog at the Brier or someone newly diagnosed with MS, is to take every day and do the best you can and, remember, you are never alone on your journey.”

 

Generations of her family have developed Alzheimer’s, including her grandmother, mother, sisters and brothers. Ever grateful for the free services and programs available to her and her family, including support groups, Barbara takes part in the annual Walk for Alzheimer’s — doing her part to ensure that families like hers receive the support they need.

“I am the only sibling of eight to have reached the age of 60 without having developed dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society was there for me and my family, and I continue to hope that a cure will be found before this terrible disease affects the next generation of my family.”

At the age of 3, Sydney was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis — a childhood arthritis that affects more than 24,000 Canadian children and has no known cause or cure. After years of cortisone shots and many medications, she has recently found one that has improved her quality of life. Sydney is an active volunteer for The Arthritis Society and enjoys attending the society’s summer camp just for kids like her.

“There are times when arthritis seems very scary, but there are amazing people who care so much and new medications that really help.”

Gary received a liver transplant after being diagnosed with stage 1 liver cancer. He credits the life-saving research that the Canadian Liver Foundation engages in for saving his life — and is a committed volunteer for the Foundation, educating his community about liver health and the importance of liver research.

If it wasn’t for the research that the Canadian Liver Foundation funds, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

Angie MacCaull of Summerside would never have expected to experience heart disease: she is active, not overweight, not a smoker and is only 45. You can imagine her shock when tests revealed eight blockages in her coronary arteries. Angie is anxious to get involved with the Heart & Stroke to advocate for women’s heart health and help other women who are facing similar health challenges.

“If I can save just one woman’s life, this will all be worth it.”

At the age of 19, Cody was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that attacks large joints, requiring regular treatment and daily medication. At the age of 20, he spent his wedding day on crutches. Cody is just one of 25,000 Islanders living with arthritis. Now he is happy to have become an active member with The Arthritis Society to help others affected by the disease.

“My first thought was ‘how does a healthy 19-year-old end up with arthritis’? After some discussion and research, I learned it can affect many people.”

In 1993, Trisha Clarkin was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a devastating genetic motor neuron disease. Without family nearby to support her, she felt isolated, but when she moved to Charlottetown in 1999, she found out about Muscular Dystrophy Canada. The people in her support group have become her family and she no longer feels alone.

“I appreciate the good work HealthPartners does for Muscular Dystrophy Canada. I’ve been able to benefit from the support group, equipment resources and research that’s been available to me because of the financial support from HealthPartners.”

Ever since Gerry Gray of Charlottetown was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, he has participated in studies he believes are vital to the development of effective treatments, not only for him but for all who are living with the disease. Both Gerry and his wife, Brenda, are grateful for the support they receive from the Huntington Society of Canada and its PEI chapter.

“Our Huntington Society social worker has made such a difference to not only Gerry and I but to other families in PEI also living with the disease.”

Donovan McNeely is the father of two boys with severe hemophilia A. Shortly after his first son’s diagnosis, he and his wife, Jenn, met Shelley Blaquière, president of the PEI chapter of the Canadian Hemophilia Society. The chapter has helped the McNeely family in many times of need.

“Because we have no hematologist on the Island, we need to travel to the IWK Centre in Halifax for treatments and checkups. Not only was the chapter there for us emotionally, they were there for us financially. We are, and always will be, grateful for what they do for us.”

While in hospital after open-heart surgery, John Guinan was visited by a Heart & Stroke volunteer who talked to him about his recovery and assured him everything would be ok. This small gesture of kindness inspired John to raise money for Heart & Stroke through the Hockey Heroes Weekend event in Halifax. In 2013, John formed his own team, the Truro Heart Attacks, which in four years has raised over $134,000 to fund life-saving research.

“There are so many things I could say about John as a friend, hockey player and teammate. He is always eager to jump in and help out in any way he can. His main goal is raising money for local charities.” - Richie Crowell, Truro Heart Attacks team member

Taylor started to notice the pain of childhood arthritis at 9 years old but wasn’t diagnosed until she was 13. When she attended The Arthritis Society of Canada’s Camp JoinTogether for Maritime children and youth living with arthritis at the age of 16, she realized that she wasn’t alone.

“Camp helped me realize that arthritis didn’t have to have a negative spin. Seeing and meeting other people who had gone through the same things as me, and even had it worse, was motivational. Getting to talk about arthritis and being able to relate to others is something I will always be grateful for. I’ll never be able to say thank you enough to the donors of The Arthritis Society.”

The End Diabetes movement is Diabetes Canada’s rallying cry to end the terrible health impacts of diabetes as well as the shame, blame, stigma and misinformation that surround it. Kylie Peacock’s story serves as an inspiration for others. Before getting help from a psychologist and leaving the need for anonymity behind, Kylie was extremely anxious about the burden she thought she placed on others.

“It’s not that I didn’t care about my health, I just didn’t want to burden anyone else with it. I didn’t want my diabetes to shape me. There were so many new things going on and I had to do so much on my own. I found it hard to manage my diabetes and still keep on top of my schoolwork and make friends.”

Chantal Milne’s biggest concern after her diagnosis at 22 was her ability to run and play with her future children, as she had always envisioned. The MS Walk is more than just a place for those affected by multiple sclerosis to get together and raise funds for the MS Society of Canada. It’s an opportunity for them to gain a sense that they are not alone and to feel a sense of community.

“When I got to the MS Walk starting line that spring day in 2013, I saw so many families with young kids and newborns. It was like a thousand people telling me all at once it was okay, I could have a family, too. The MS Walk made me proud to be part of a small community where thousands of people can come together to support each other on such a personal level.”

It was only after Dianna Cunning’s son was diagnosed with severe hemophilia that she found her way to the Canadian Hemophilia Society’s Nova Scotia chapter. Currently its president as well as treasurer of the Society’s national board of directors, Dianna is helping other Nova Scotians who have been touched by hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

“I love my volunteer work. I love making a difference and helping others. Of course, this is all possible only because I am part of two wonderful teams, at the provincial and national levels. We all have the same passion, vision and goals.”

Pauline never had any symptoms of liver disease until tests following her annual physical confirmed she had primary biliary cholangitis. Though medication significantly improves her liver function and reduces the effects of her disease, Pauline wonders about the long-term impact as she gets older. The Canadian Liver Foundation funds life-saving research that will ultimately benefit the 1 in 4 Canadians who are affected by liver disease.

“My family doctor is monitoring my health but I really don’t know what to expect for the future.”

Jeff Snow, the 2016 youth director for the Canadian Hemophilia Society’s Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter, was awarded a youth fellowship, making it possible for him to attend the World Federation of Hemophilia’s Congress in Orlando. The stories he heard from attendees have had a lasting impact.

“I still remember speakers struggling to keep their composure as they talked about loved ones they have lost. The reality and beauty of our bleeding disorder community is that we are all fighting similar battles, no matter where we are in the world. Our common fight and courage has inspired me to continue on as a hemophilia advocate, spreading what I have learned to anyone and everyone, everywhere I can.

It took time for the medical team to diagnose Lisa and Ryan Brogan’s son, Jackson, whose eyes were pulling off to the left. After ruling out a range of possibilities, they made a shocking discovery — Jackson had suffered a stroke. Fast forward five years, he is doing well. Lisa and Ryan are so grateful to Heart & Stroke for the decades of research into pediatric stroke that made their son’s recovery possible.

“Jackson had a very supportive rehab team at the Janeway and we cannot thank them enough for the role they played in his recovery, beginning when he was just 15 weeks old.”

Newfoundland resident and MS Society Avalon chapter chair Zita Kavanagh-Taylor organizes Paws for MS, an annual dog walk that raises money for programs, services and research dedicated to ending multiple sclerosis. A participant this year told her that being surrounded by so many happy four-legged creatures helped her deal with her MS-related anxiety. Zita says her dog inspires her to keep going in the fight to end MS.

“I have a wonderful and supportive family that helps me get through the daily challenges of living with MS, and my family includes my dog. Our pets can help us on our journey.”

At 21 years old, Rachel is a driven and passionate young woman. A 3rd-year Bachelor of Science student at Memorial University, she is also one of 100,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador living with arthritis. The Arthritis Society is important to her for many reasons.

Its events and programs help spread awareness about this debilitating disease and improve the quality of life for those living with this disease while also working to find a cure — someday making it possible to play sports, hang out with friends, prepare meals or even brush their teeth. The Arthritis Society provides hope and support to people affected by arthritis. ”

At age 14, two years after her diabetes diagnosis, Sarah Baker attended Camp Briardale in Manitoba, one of Diabetes Canada’s 12 D-Camps for children and youth living with type 1 diabetes.

“It was a fabulous experience,” says the 24-year-old from Winnipeg. “You didn’t feel alone at mealtimes when everyone brought out their needles and counted their carbs.”

Leigh Fischer had never even heard of fatty liver when he went to his doctor complaining about a pain in his side. Facing the reality of fatty liver disease at only 28, Leigh had to make a decision to take control of his life. Now 100 lbs lighter, working out regularly and eating healthy, Leigh has successfully eliminated the excess fat from his liver. He has also helped raise awareness by sharing his story publicly. The Canadian Liver Foundation is committed to helping fatty liver disease patients like Leigh make lifestyle changes, including practical solutions to increase their activity levels.

“I basically had the choice of doing nothing and having this kill me in 10 years or I could change my lifestyle and reverse it.”

At 16, Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter Sheena was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Now 32, Sheena devotes her life to reaching out to young people with MS. Sheena joined in the planning of a conference hosted by the MS Society of Canada’s Manitoba chapter called The Heart of It, for people in their 20s and 30s who live with MS or are caring for someone who has MS. She led a song-writing session for people to express their thoughts.

“I wanted to offer a vehicle for people to express things that are weighing on them and transform it with art. MS can be a very challenging topic but also something we can transcend together.”

Vanessa Balitaan had just given birth to her third child when her 18-year-old daughter, Cyerra, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The family reached out to The Arthritis Society of Canada for pain management resources and support. Through Winnipeg office staff, the Balitaans found an agency that would connect Cyerra with an arthritis-friendly workplace that understood her need to take frequent breaks and her sudden flares. A quote that Cyerra found when her condition worsened right before graduation acts as a kind of mantra for her: “I’m going to limp my way to success.”

“She even has it engraved on her ipod. It just makes me so proud how determined and headstrong she is to accomplish her goals and dreams.”

Paulette Côté and Peter Czehryn of Winnipeg recently attended their first World Federation of Hemophilia Congress, along with their upcoming celebration of 25 years of marriage. This event gave Paulette and Peter, who are both hemophiliacs, a chance to have a glimpse into their future together as well as a continued and ongoing appreciation of the need for educated leaders.

I can’t wait to return to the next conference. Thank you to the Canadian Hemophilia Society for this enriching and stimulating opportunity that reminded us that we are never alone.” - Paulette

Shauna Sullivan-Curley, resident of Charlottetown, PEI, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 33 years old. A cancer survivor for 25 years and immersed in the cancer world through the duration, Shauna observed vast improvements to the services available to patients in PEI undergoing their cancer journey. With the help of the Canadian Cancer Society, research continues to improve the outlook for people with cancer.

“People are living longer, survival rates have improved, more options are available for drug treatments, environment for chemotherapy treatment is more pleasant, and opportunities for social work, chaplaincy service and dietary services are now available, but the work can’t stop here, as we need to invest in more research.”