Ambassadors of the Year: Christel Robichaud, Dante Cormier, Zoe Black, Jacob LeBlanc, Brent Daborn McDade, Alex Greer & Emily Gorveatte
Our Ambassador of the Year Award is presented annually to a person who has been a strong ambassador for our organization, persons with a mobility disability or disability issues. The recipients of a 2021-2022 Ambassador of the Year Award are the stars of the Transition NB video team.
When Ability NB began to work with m5 Marketing Communications to develop a campaign to link more youth with a mobility disability to our Transition NB program, we knew we wanted to tell the story of the incredible talents and abilities of youth we collaborate with in our program. Too many youth with a mobility disability do not pursue post-secondary education and are not in the labour market and the Transition NB program works to change that. These seven champions of education and employment were instrumental in our campaign which appeared on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. The videos had 11.8 million total impressions, 82,000 clicks and 1.6 million views! What an impact! Thank you to the following New Brunswick youth for showing all youth what is possible:
Brent Daborn McDade
Brent is an outgoing young New Brunswicker and a high school graduate. Brent is from Lakeville, NB and lives with Cerebral Palsy. He is an avid hockey fan and volunteer and he is highly involved in all activities related to the Moncton Wildcats.
Dante is a student at Riverview High school, and an incredible para athlete. He lives with Cerebral Palsy and recently represented New Brunswick at the Canada Summer Games in wheelchair racing – he was less than one second away from winning a bronze medal. At the Games, he also set a personal best and NB record in the 200 metre wheelchair racing event.
Zoe Black is a high school graduate from Cap-Péle, NB. She lives with Niemann-Pick disease type C but it does not hold her back. Zoe loves the theatre, the beach and time with her family.
Emily is a smart and determined young woman who is a strong advocate for herself. She lives with fibromyalgia and arthritis and is working on her health. She surrounds herself with a supportive family team.
Alex is an intelligent and passionate young man. Alex dreams big and is quick to navigate how to reach these goals. He has been able to pursue his passion for technology and social media in his recent education and employment placements. He is an active member of his community and is passionate about being involved.
Jacob LeBlanc of Moncton may have been born without a leg, but it didn’t stop him from playing the great sport of hockey. Jacob is a sledge hockey Paralympic hopeful who has been making a name for himself on the ice and in developmental camps with Hockey Canada. Jacob lives by the motto that all is possible.
Christel Robichaud of Grande-Digue loves sport, works part-time and is active in her community. She recently won a gold medal in the female para shot put at the 2022 Canada Summer Games in Niagara.
Volunteer Award of Excellence: UPS
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. The recipient of our 2021-2022 award is UPS. Every Spring or Fall, sometimes both, a dedicated group of UPS workers meet at our Equipment Loan Service (ELS)’s storage facility to help our Para NB Coordinator do a seasonal clean-up. This maintenance day may involve pumping tires on multisport wheelchairs, replacing wheel kits with blades on the hockey sledges for the winter season or general maintenance and clean-up of the nearly 600 pieces of adapted equipment that the ELS currently has for loan. Whether it is as part of UPS’s Global Volunteer Day or as part of United Way’s Day of Caring, they always show up ready to work and eager to help. Sometimes they even show up with their own tools – like Lee! Not only does the UPS team help Para NB provide a valuable service that helps people with a mobility disability be active and healthy, they give back the gift of time. What a team of eight can do in just two hours could take the Coordinator up to a week to accomplish! This gift is priceless as it allows the Coordinator to dedicate more time to getting the equipment out to people all around New Brunswick. We cannot thank the volunteers from UPS enough for choosing Ability NB. We look forward to seeing the familiar faces of the UPS team every year and look forward to continuing this wonderful partnership.
Para Sport & Recreation Award: Matt Kinnie
Our Para Sport & Recreation Award is presented annually to an individual, group or organization that has made a significant contribution to parallel sport and recreation in New Brunswick in areas such as competition and achievement, program development, officiating or coaching. The recipient of our 2021-2022 award is Matt Kinnie.
Matt Kinnie continues to make New Brunswick proud at the international level in para cycling. In 2021, he posted two-top five finishes at the World Road Championships. In 2019, he was first in the time trial and road race at the Parapan American Games.
In 2017, 2018 and 2019, he swept gold in the time trial and road race at the Canadian championships.
Matt turned to para sports after a rock-climbing accident in 2005. Kinnie loved the outdoors and was also studying engineering at the University of New Brunswick at the time. He completed his engineering degree in 2007. He has developed into Canada’s top racer in the H2 handcycling category. He is also passionate about para sport and is the president of Parasport New Brunswick.
Notable international results
- 2021 World Road Championships time trial 4th
- 2021 World Road Championships road race 5th
- 2019 Parapan American Games time trial 1st
- 2019 Parapan American Games road race 1st
- 2019 Canadian Championships road race 1st
- 2019 Canadian Championships time trial 1st
- 2018 World Cup (CAN) time trial 6th
- 2018 World Cup (CAN) road race 8th
Matt is an incredible mentor for persons with a mobility disability in sport, recreation and active living. Thank you, Matt, for your leadership!
Active schools leadership award: Néri Savoie
The Inclusive Active Schools Leadership Award is presented annually to a physical education specialist, Educational Assistant, or student who has helped our Para NB – Sport & Recreation program grow within the school system or raised awareness of inclusive physical education during the fiscal year. The recipient of our 2021-2022 award is Néri Savoie from District scolaire francophone Nord-Est.
Néri first became a Para NB advocate in schools when he attended a professional development session offered by Para NB in 2018. After the session, he put in a loan request to offer his grade 12 class the opportunity to participate in parallel sport and recreation activities and raise awareness on various adapted equipment. The experience was so well received that the following year he spearheaded an “equipment tour” where 11 schools in the Acadian Peninsula, an area which had not accessed our equipment yet, used the equipment over the school year as part of their physical education classes. This boosted the visibility of Para NB in the Acadian Peninsula and amongst francophone schools throughout New Brunswick every year since.
Néri has remained our main voice in the region and this upcoming school year (2022-2023), 12 schools in the region will be using our equipment as part of their physical education curriculum.
Thank you Néri for your leadership and the promotion of inclusive physical education in schools.
Media Commitment to Community Award: CBC Shift
Our Media Commitment to Community Award is presented annually to media that have made a significant contribution to raise awareness of our organization and the issues faced by persons with a disability. The recipient of our 2021-2022 award is CBC Shift New Brunswick.
Shift is an energetic two-and-a-half-hour radio show that connects people in the province with the events of the day and with each other. Its host, Vanessa Vander Valk and its producer Danielle McCreadie live the definition of community-minded.
After earning her Bachelor of Journalism degree from King’s College in 2001, Vanessa kicked off her career with CBC in Saint John, working as an associate producer on Information Morning. She’s also worked as a reporter in Whitehorse, as the producer of the noon show in the Northwest Territories and as a newsreader back in Saint John. Danielle McCreadie produces and puts to air CBC Shift. She is based out of Fredericton and has previously worked in radio in Saint John and Halifax.
Their passion and dedication to raising awareness about issues important to New Brunswickers and people with a disability is powerful. They are always open to covering a hot topic like accessible places of employment and affordable housing. They are always the first to tell the stories of New Brunswick’s para athletes as they compete on the provincial, national and international stages. They tell the stories of New Brunswickers with a disability with heart and those stories often result in people reaching out to Ability NB to learn more about how we can help.
Thank you, CBC Shift, for your commitment to community!
Good Samaritan Award: Clint Kingsbury
Our Wilf Torunski Good Samaritan Award was newly established in 2021 in honour of an Ability NB Board member. The Good Samaritan Award is given annually to an individual or group that exemplifies extraordinary concern for persons with a mobility disability and has helped someone in distress or facing adversity. The individual or group has carried out a good deed, has demonstrated “service above self” that has impacted the lives of a person or persons with a mobility disability in a positive way. The recipient of our 2021-2022 award is Clint Kingsbury.
One of our service participants was connected to real estate agent Clint Kingsbury after the service participant had a negative experience with another agent. Our service participant with a mobility disability was so pleased with the service of Clint and how he went above and beyond to help him find the right home. Clint told the service participant if he ever needed anything to reach out – and he meant it. When Ability NB was unable to help the same service participant secure funding to replace a 10 year old orthotic, the service participant suggested reaching out to Clint since he had offered to contact him if he ever needed help. Often times people will say to reach out if help is needed, but it is rare to find those who actually follow through. Clint funded a large portion of the orthotic himself and then recruited members of his team to donate for the remainder. And he did this without hesitation.
Excellence in Leadership Award: Paige Stevenson
Our Excellence in Leadership Award is presented annually to an employee who has exhibited proactive leadership and a strong commitment to policies and practices that support quality work and learning environments. This individual demonstrates creativity, fosters a supportive and collegial team environment and demonstrates exemplary relationship building both within and outside of the organization. This award is voted on by the staff team. The recipient of our 2021-2022 award is Paige Stevenson.
Here is what members of her team had to say about her:
- “She is always willing to suggest a solution and is usually the first to respond when brainstorming with the team”.
- “She goes above and beyond, whether it is distributing a record number of COVID-19 tests or bringing shells back for our Executive Director from her work trip to Grand Manan, she’s always ready to go above and beyond for her coworkers and service participants”.
- “She is always positive and loves to laugh and make others laugh. She is always looking for ways to be a part of the team.”
- “She cares. A LOT. She cares about the work she does and the people who need her help and she is relentless in her efforts to help attain a goal.”
35 Years of Service Excellence Award: Cindy Comuzzi
Cindy Comuzzi is a recipient of a 35 Years of Service Excellence Award. Cindy is the Ability NB Office Manager and the most dedicated member of our employee team. She is caring, kind and incredibly committed to the Ability NB mission. Here is what her team had to say about her:
“She goes above and beyond.”
“She is the Ability NB mother.”
“She is the first person to jump to help out and make sure you are ok both personally and professionally.”
“She is the glue that keeps everyone together.”
“She cares deeply about our service participants with a mobility disability.”
5 Years of Service Excellence Award: Wendy Scott
Wendy Scott is a recipient of a 5 Years of Service Excellence Award. Wendy is currently the Manager of our new Accessible NB program and worked as a Coordinator for the Para NB program and as a volunteer administrative assistant since she joined our team. Wendy is compassionate, kind, highly committed to team wellness and extremely dedicated to our mission. Here are some things her team had to say about her.
“The most kind, sweetest person. You can just feel her kindness.”
“She is a great person to talk to if you need support.”
“She motivates us to take care of ourselves.”
“She is a light”.
“She is deeply committed to helping persons with a mobility disability and creating an accessible, inclusive New Brunswick.”
5 Years of Service Excellence Award: Mathieu Stever
Mathieu Stever is a recipient of a 5 Years of Service Excellence Award. Matt is the Manager of our Para NB – Sport & Recreation Program. Matt is a dedicated and passionate member of our team and he is highly committed to active living and wellness. Here are some things his team had to say about him.
“He is a caring and insightful team member. He always has a lot of great things to say if you are having a hard day.”
“He is the funny guy on the team.”
“When he has something to say, you should listen. He is quiet but is insightful when he speaks.”
“He wants to ensure everyone plays! He works tirelessly to make sure no one gets left behind in sport, on a beach or on a playground.”