Ambassador of the Year Award: Garry Stokes
Our Ambassador of the Year Award is presented annually to a person affiliated with our organization who has been a strong ambassador for our organization, persons with a mobility disability or disability issues. The recipient of a 2016-2017 Ambassador of the Year Award is Garry Stokes of Moncton, NB.
Garry worked in the construction trade, and was the owner and general manager of G.O.S. Renovations Ltd for over 30 years. In his years in construction, Garry notes that he completed several renovation projects with NB Housing and Habitat for Humanity, including repairs and renovations to units that were occupied by seniors and people living with a disability. He expresses with pride that he used to volunteer and help veterans and seniors with tasks like snow blowing and small chores around the house. Having to retire due to the progression of his disability, Garry had to find another means of helping others in his community, and that was using his strong voice. Garry continues to be a strong and passionate advocate for persons with a disability in his community. It is not uncommon to hear about Garry calling the City to let them know about an inaccessible sidewalk and advocating until it gets fixed. You will also see Garry out and about in the community talking to others, encouraging and empowering them to stand up for themselves and find the courage to reach out to access the resources that they need. Garry enjoys sharing his views and participating in events such as the Accessible Canada Consultation that Ability NB hosted in March and he was also one of our featured seniors in the My Aging Story project – stories about NB seniors who are examples of perseverance and independence in living with a mobility disability. Garry was also featured on behalf of our organization in the United Way of Moncton & Southeastern NB community highlights brochure and in the Ability NB I am campaign.
Ambassador of the Year Award: Jeremy Murray
Our Ambassador of the Year Award is presented annually to a person affiliated with our organization who has been a strong ambassador for our organization, persons with a mobility disability or disability issues. The recipient of a 2016-2017 Ambassador of the Year Award is Jeremy Murray of Willow Grove, NB.
Jeremy Murray is an emerging New Brunswick documentary filmmaker and Ability NB service participant. He is currently enrolled in the UNB Media Arts and Culture program, with a concentration in film production, and has long been involved in disability rights advocacy. In many ways, Jeremy uses his work as a filmmaker to raise awareness about accessibility rights and equality issues associated with ability. Jeremy was born with cerebral palsy, which, in his words, gives him “a unique perspective on life and filmmaking due to the perceived limitations that having a disability presents. Jeremy has produced various types of media including short films and video podcasts. He launched and produced a podcast called DATT (Disability and Assistive Technology Today) Show.
Jeremy is always up for speaking on behalf/advocating for individuals living with a disability in order to help make change. He has been an ambassador for our organization, has appeared in our Transition NB publications and has been a guest speaker at our events. He was also an advocate for accessible transportation while attending university in Fredericton and appeared in several media articles on our behalf. He is a valued member of our Transition NB program Advisory Team and was highly involved in campus accessibility issues at the University of New Brunswick.
Thank you Jeremy and congratulations!
Ambassador of the Year Award: Wilf Torunski
Our Ambassador of the Year Award is presented annually to a person affiliated with our organization who has been a strong ambassador for our organization, persons with a mobility disability or disability issues. The recipient of a 2016-2017 Ambassador of the Year Award is Wilf Torunski of St. Stephen, NB.
Wilfred Torunski is proof that a positive attitude can make all the difference. Especially when faced with a health crisis like the one he experienced in 2006. “My whole spine from T2 level down was totally infected,” he says. He was 64 years young at the time. His attitude? “Thank God I’m alive.”
Wilf was elected to the Board of Ability NB in June 2014 and has been an active contributor to the organization and an ambassador for persons with a disability through the Board, through sharing his story and experiences with others and through advocating in his local community for accessibility.
Wilf is also an advocate for keeping mentally and physically active. Wilf is on a number of boards, sings with the church choir, enjoys gardening and describes himself as a newspaper junkie. As well, he and Donna hold adapted exercise classes for seniors with a disability. Wilf and his wife have been married 25 years and have a wonderful partnership. “If it weren’t for Donna, I wouldn’t be as active as I am,” he says.
He encourages other seniors to face their mobility challenges with a positive attitude. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself, flip it and say thank God I’m alive.”
Volunteer Award of Excellence: Beth Wallace
Our Volunteer Award of Excellence is presented annually to an individual or group who demonstrates outstanding initiative and leadership in their volunteer work with Ability NB. A recipient of our 2016-2017 award is Beth Wallace.
In 2015-2016, Ability NB hosted 2 major fundraising events – our 16th annual Feast in the Field and our 60th Anniversary Gala – Beth was the first to sign up for both as a volunteer. But our relationship with Beth didn’t start there. We first met Beth in 2009 as a member of the planning committee for Feast in the Field. We have been proud to add her to the ranks of our most prized resource, our volunteers, ever since. Attending over 20 fundraising events, big & small, we can always rely on Beth to bring her smile and a positive attitude. Her commitment to Ability NB doesn’t stop at signing up at events; she donates, shares volunteer opportunities, follows on social media, and advocates for the work we do in the Fredericton area. Beth is more than a volunteer, she’s a friend to Ability NB and the people we support.
Volunteer Award of Excellence: Carl Constantine
Our Volunteer Award of Excellence is presented annually to an individual or group who demonstrates outstanding initiative and leadership in their volunteer work with Ability NB. A recipient of our 2016-2017 award is Carl Constantine.
Carl has served on the Ability NB Board for over 30 years and has served in roles such as Treasurer and Member-at-large. He rarely misses a Board meeting.
Carl is a kind and passionate volunteer. During the 1970’s, Ability NB (then called the Canadian Paraplegic Association NB) encouraged its members into sport by providing leadership and hands on experience. Ability NB helped start up NB Wheelchair Sports Association as well as several city/regional sport and recreation clubs in the province during this period and Carl was instrumental in these initiatives. Carl believes in being active and in opportunities for adapted sport and recreation and has been a key advocate for the Para NB – Sport & Recreation program. Carl brings his background in accounting and his dedication to the organization as excellent steward and trustee.
Thank you Carl for being a true champion of Ability NB!
Para Sport and Recreation Award: Bernard Lapointe
Bernard Lapointe is a fiercely determined person who loves competition. He jumped at the opportunity to get involved in parallel sport, following his injury. Being active (and competitive) was such a big part of his identity that he couldn’t leave it behind.
Bernard’s competition results in 2016-2017 include:
- 2 bronze medals at the 2017 Forza Irish Para Badminton International (June 2017)
- 1 silver medal at the IV Pan Am Para Badminton Championships (December 2016)
- 1 gold medal at the Colombia Para-Badminton Championships (December 2016)
- 1 gold medal at the Canadian Para-Badminton Championships (May 2016)
- 5th place at the Canadian Tennis Championships (November 2016)
- As of July 13, 2017, Ranked 7th on the Badminton World Federation Rankings (top ranked men’s singles player in badminton Canada history).
Bernard has volunteered to share his skills and passion for wheelchair tennis with others and is a mentor for others with a mobility disability who want to get involved in sport and recreation.
Congratulations to Bernard on your continued success!