Patti Dawson Activist of the Year:
Activist, lawyer, author and adventurer, Dave Shannon, has been defending the rights of people with disabilities for more than 30 years.
From Thunder Bay to the world stage at the United Nations, Dave has worked to preserve the civil liberties and human rights of people challenged not just by disability, but also by poverty and discrimination. His passionate activism was foundational to the Accessible Canada Act, the first national Canadian legislation on accessibility that affects all government departments and federally regulated agencies.
In a different but equally powerful way, Dave’s personal expeditions have demonstrated how seemingly insurmountable barriers can be overcome. In 1997, he gained national media attention as the first quadriplegic to cross Canada in a motorized wheelchair. In another first, he trekked to the North Pole in 2009 and raised a disabled parking sign.
When the pandemic further complicated issues already faced by people with disabilities, Dave was instrumental in advocating with our community on a number of priorities, including vaccine distribution for people with spinal cord injuries, triage protocol, MAiD legislation and income security.
Dave has won numerous prestigious awards and honours, such as the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada. For the SCIO community, Dave has been a superior leader, mentor and engaged participant. He has helped in forming SCIO’s public policy portfolio, guided other activists and continued to bring key issues to the attention of MPPs and other decision-makers. We are extremely grateful for his commitment to advancing our advocacy priorities.
Vigmond Philanthropy Award:
John Shamoon and Paul Shamoon of Stride Rehab
Stride Rehabilitation of London, Ontario, has not only made outstanding financial contributions to SCIO, but dedicated many volunteer hours to advancing our mission.
Led by the efforts of brothers and Stride rehabilitation support workers Paul and John Shamoon, the organization began supporting SCIO five years ago. Since then, its impact has consistently increased. John and Paul are both philanthropic leaders in our community.
Paul sat on the London Event Committee from 2016 to 2019 and was a key volunteer on the night of the events, managing other event-night volunteers. He has committed to continue as a member of this committee once it is reinstated after COVID-19.
John was a key volunteer in the planning and execution of both the 2020 and 2021 Rolling Through Barriers virtual events. He now sits on the new Southwestern Ontario Professionals’ Executive Committee with the mandate of increasing awareness and funding for SCIO.
As John and Paul became more involved with SCIO as volunteers, their personal financial contributions to SCIO also increased. They have consistently encouraged their staff and other local businesses to support our organization through event sponsorship and teams. We are thrilled to have these two wonderful leaders as part of the SCIO community.
Employer of the Year:
The Home Depot
In a time of uncertainty and change, The Home Depot stayed true to its commitment to operating a company that reflects, respects and supports diversity, equity and inclusion among their associates and suppliers.
In 2020, they hired a job seeker from Employment Services and put extra effort into meeting several accommodation needs to ensure he felt valued and could demonstrate his abilities. When his short-term contract finished, the company gave him an extension and transferred him to a new position.
During the last year, his employers encouraged him to develop and learn new skills. In a short period of time, he felt like a valuable and equal part of the Gerrard Square team. We award the The Home Depot Gerrard Square team our 2020 Employer of the Year award for hiring for diversity, equity and inclusivity. They are truly an employer of choice for our candidates.
The Builder Award
Kevin Holmes, The MBTW Group
Kevin Holmes is an everyday hero who has made an enormous and invaluable impact on the spinal cord injury community in Ontario. In his everyday life, Kevin is a dedicated husband and father who builds award-winning landscapes as a principal at the MBTW Group, but this award recognizes his extraordinary ability to build community and support through community service.
The Builder Award honours his long-term and influential commitment to SCIO’s mission of delivering and championing excellence in support, advocacy and service for and with people with spinal cord injuries.
For the past 16 years, Kevin has been an active member of the Ski & Snowboard Day committee, a group of extraordinary volunteers who organize a fundraiser in Collingwood that unites their industries to celebrate the power of winter sports, inclusion and philanthropy.
Thanks to Kevin’s leadership, Ski and Snowboard Day has transformed into SCIO’s largest fundraising event, raising $1M for essential and programs and services for people living with spinal cord injury.
We are so grateful for Kevin’s endless contributions to our spinal cord injury community, manifesting in his kindness and passion for spreading the vision of a barrier-free Ontario everywhere he goes – especially on the slope. As the Making Dreams Possible Sponsor, Kevin’s company enables clients across Ontario to experience “the thrill of the hill” by participating in a full day of sit-skiing with trained professionals. His generous contribution creates an exceptional opportunity for our community to access this sport for free, encouraging active living.
Kevin’s volunteerism has touched the lives of countless people across the province, inspiring his industry to learn more about our mission and building an engaged and generous community of supporters.
Thank you, Kevin, for working so diligently to help build a barrier-free Ontario, on and off the slopes.