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Canada Community Hall Of Fame


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Abby Vara, Ottawa, Canada. Winning Daughter: Abby is an inspiration to all, and her father’s little angel. Abby’s father became very ill with an undiagnosable neurological disorder that caused him to have many problems over the years. Throughout her 14 year care of her father, along with many nights of worry and pain, Abby’s father was diagnosed with another illness that would hinder his ability to recover, kidney failure. Devastated, Abby began volunteering for a local foundation striving to find cure for her father; and while volunteering allowed Abby to reconnect with local patients of the same illness of her father. She knew she had to do something more to help him. Three years later, Abby donated a kidney to her father, became an active member in the foundation spreading organ donation awareness, and saved her father’s life forever. He is currently in the best condition of his life. To hear more detailed information about this brave young daughter, please vote for her story. By Tamara Tarchichi

Alex Munter, Ottawa Canada. Winning Citizen: Alex is the new CEO for the Local Health Network which operates all the hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities in the Ottawa region. He is 42 years old and has already published a local newspaper, been elected to Ottawa City Council and even ran for Mayor and almost won. He is dynamic and electric and committed to building a better community. By Mike Martin

Angela Aiello, Toronto Canada. Winner in Business: She is the founder of  IYellow Wine Club which now has over 5,000 members. This is a social club where wine enthusiasts can connect over classes, tours, and food and wine events. The club is leading the wine revolution in Toronto. Aiello started out at 16 and is now the exclusive wine host for CBC’s Steven & Chris Show and for Le Gourmet TV (part of the Broadband Gourmet Network). The club is not elitist and helps the average person gain wine confidence. Angela is also among the youngest wine entrepreneurs in the world. By Savia D’cunha

Billie Milholland, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Winning Citizen: In 2002 Billie Milholland researched and wrote the “North Saskatchewan River Guide.” Today she is a founding member of the North Saskatchewan River Museum Society whose aim is to create a museum to hold artifacts from the river’s rich history and to help raise awareness of the rivers importance to our community. By Diana Ellis

Brandy McCulley, Osaka, British Columbia, Canada. Winning Educator: Brandy spent the good part of her adult life in Japan, slowly climbing the corporate ladder. When the company went bankrupt Brandy was suddenly stranded in Osaka, with few options. She could have tried to find another teaching job and started at the bottom again, or moved back to her hometown of Barrie, Ontario and struggled to find work in the small community. Instead, Brandy made the courageous decision to build her own school from the ground up. She now provides quality lessons to many of the residents in her city and serves as an example for other hopeful entrepreneurs. By Michael Webber

Cindy Boury, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada, Winning Citizen: She would make a great Winners Within story because she is well respected in our community. She was an Abbotsford Rotary member. For those not familiar with Rotary International, you have to be a community minded individual actively participating in community fundraising projects and much more. By Tara Hagen

Mrs. Dunn, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Winning Teacher: Mrs. Dunham is an exceptional grade one teacher. I am the mother of twin boys, one who is in her grade one class. This woman goes above and beyond the typical teacher role. She has played a major part in the breakfast club for the school, and, despite having a serious illness, she knows and understands each child like they were her own. This does not even delve into what she means to this community and to the children. She is approaching the end of her career, and I do not believe she has been recognized for the difference she has made in people’s lives. She is a local institution. My boys father even mentioned her from when he was a child. When I asked for inspirational stories, she came up over and over again. I would like to have the opportunity to share this remarkable woman’s story. I will have no problem finding support from the community, and I know she deserves it. Since I first found out about your magazine I have been looking for the right person. Mrs. Dunn is it. By Jennifer Jenka

Dr Edward J. Tabah , Montréal, Québec, Canada. Winning Citizen: He is the founder of The Cedar’s Institute for the fight against cancer at the Royal Victoria Hospita l in Montreal.  His personnal story is a Saga by itself.  A story about war,  love,   and deshabilitating  diseases. In the name of the father,   Dr John Tabbah,  oncologic surgeon at the Montreal general Hospital would say, talking about his dad  : “The German army was defeated. Soldiers and officers were fleeing  leaving everything.” Sauve qui peut”.   My father noticed the quality of the material left behind.  He started collecting it and brought it back to Canada.   It was highly sophisticated medical material. 4 months after being diagnosed with cancer, he died  leaving everyhting he cared for,  the Cedars Institute and   his main concern, my mother.    The cathedral was full. The Mcgill orchestra began  to play the song he asked for  : ” do you know how much I love you”. My mother was sitting noticing nothing. At a very young age, she was diagnosed with  Alzheimer disease. All Montreal establishment was there;   even  the chief of the Montreal  Mafia.  I thought that even dead, he still had  this gift or facility  to connect with people from any backgrounds, any culture” By Amal Khoury

Elie Cheaib, Montréal Canada. Winner in Business: He is the most famous Lebanese in Quebec.  Any Quebecer knows about Elie Cheaib. He is the owner of the Adonis chain of supermarkets. He fled Lebanon  in 1978, because of the  war. Quoting Elie Cheaib : ”  everything was destroyed, gone in fire.   I thought, that at least, my friend and I were given   the  chance for a new beginning,  elsewhere”.   He started  a simple –  what it is called in Quebec  ” depanneur” -  a  small grocery store. ” We had a lot of hope in our pockets, not a lot of money”.   He ended   with a chain of supermarkets. ” I am not a hero neither have I super human qualities of compassion and brotherhood.   I simply identify with a guy asking for a job. I will give him a chance”  By Amal Khoury

Frank Ritacca, Tononto, Ontario, Canada. Winner Against the Odds: As a child, Frank Ritacca was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Given a life expectancy of 18, he is now 51. In that time, he has created websites, mastered chess and Scrabble, and profoundly impacted his family and friends. Through his warmth, humour, and positivity, he has been a beacon of hope for his community. By Anthony Teles

Freda Clark, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Winning Senior: Freda Clark is a remarkable 94 year old woman who wiggles while she walks! Freda has been inspiring people while teaching languages, movement and alignment for over half a century. She started her adventure hitch-hiking across the USA to Mexico with her fiancé as a teenager. There she taught English while socializing with Freda Kahlo and many other famous change makers of the day. Freda is nimble and quick minded and gets a chuckle when she mistakenly refers to the others in her new care home as inmates! By Cassandra Wilson

Geordie Haslam, Victoria, BC, Canada. Winning Citizen: Geordie was the wrong age (17) and from the wrong country (Canada) to be a U.S. Marine, but thanks to a draft card bought on  the black market for $50, he was soon off to Vietnam in hopes of becoming a war hero or at least getting a fresh lease on life. And how it wasn’t the only secret Geordie kept; he didn’t tell anyone — not his alcoholic parents, his friends, or the Canadian Navy that he joined two months after his return from Nam–about where he had gone, whom he had been because he feared a backlash over his choice to fight in an increasingly unpopular war. This secret didn’t come out until a mental breakdown 10 years later, when an alcoholic, suicidal Geordie let it slip to a psychiatrist. By David Minkow

Gordon Denison, Montréal Canada. Winner against the Odds: While normal 16 year olds were leading a typical teenage lifestyle, Gordon Denison was struggling with his diagnosis of end stage renal failure. This was overwhelming for someone who was used to leading a very active lifestyle. After receiving a kidney transplant a year later, Gordon has become an active member in the Kidney Foundation as well as in the local community. The recipient of many achievement and volunteer appreciation awards, Gordon’s most memorable moment to date was participating in the 2010 Winter Olympics as a torch bearer for the region of Saint-Julie, Quebec. Now, 31 years old, happily married and with a career as a Mechanical Engineer, Gordon is high on life. You will never meet someone with such spirit. The obstacles that Gordon has to overcome, his positive spirit and his dedication to helping others is what I believe makes Gordon a winner. By Colleen Ryan

Hamdi Mohamed, Ottawa Canada. Winning Benefactor: Hamdi Mohammed is a true leader within the Ottawa community, not just for the immigrant and refugee community, but the whole community. Her work as Executive Director of the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) not only assists newcomers to find employment, housing and access to community supports but it is also working to transform how the rest of the community views immigrants and refugees. By Mike Martin

Jennifer Robinson, Barrie City, Ontario Canada. Winning Citizen: Few in Canada have seen achievements like those of retired figure skater Jennifer Robinson. A six-time national champion, Robinson also skated professionally with Stars on Ice. She has also been prominent in media, having shared the morning show on Barrie radio, and also hosted a TV news program on the local cable outlet. Robinson has also conquered the world of politics, having been elected to her first term on Barrie City Council last October, reflecting her concern for her community – all this while taking on the new role of mother. In early 2010, Robinson gave birth to daughter Reese. By Glenn Wilkins
Matthias, Berlin Germany. Winning Samaritan: Matthias works at an independent bike store just around the corner from where I live. his dream is a self-built laptop. so he started to fix computers of friends for free as he knows a lot about electronics. After several years he finally got his laptop, made of the computer parts people didn`t need anymore. To me he is an absolute winner as he also helped many many people (saving and reconstructing motherboards and harddrives…you know what that means nowadays…) By Gina Dorio

Kevin Cutjar, Okanaga, BC, Canada. Winning Athlete: Cutjar has completed 37 Ironman Triathlons and is a two-time Ultraman Triathlon overall champion. In addition to be a remarkable athlete, he is also a mentor and a coach within the athletic community. By Lizzie McNeill

Kim Morrison, Calgary Canada. Winning Benefactor: Kim is Project Coordinator for the organization, UEnd. Their mission states that, “UEnd exists to inspire and empower North Americans to refocus a portion of their gift-giving budget towards strategic and sustainable projects in the developing world to help them eradicate poverty.”
By John Maduke

Lakefield Community, Lakefield, Ontario, Canada. Winning Citizens: There is a small grouping here in Lakefield (nr. Peterborough Ontario) that decided that our town needed a medical center.  We have a lot of cottagers in the summer and a growing permanent population.  This small group decided they wanted this and they got it done in a few short years.   The medical center is now up and running.  With health care being at a premium in Canada, it is an interesting story that might propel others to follow in their footsteps.  They have made Lakefield a town that can sustain growth – as health care and education are two major factors in a community remaining sustainable.  By Chantal Saville 

Layla Guse-Salah, Toronto Canada. Winning Citizen: She attends a graduate certificate program at Humber College and is working to further her career as an educator. She’s a winner because she has been a successful, wheelchair-bound teacher. She is in the process of exploring the option of teaching ESL and intends, through the program at Humber, to obtain Canadian teacher certification. By Raechel Gladstone

Lis Suarz, Montreal, Canada. Winning Samaritan: Lis Suarez is a Montreal-based social entrepreneur. Fueled by a passion for helping women become entrepreneurs and community leaders, Suarez founded FEM International. The organization raises awareness about deeper social, environmental and economic issues through ethical fashion events in developed countries, and offers fashion-focused business training programs for women in the developing world. By Chris Gibb.

Lisa, Brampton, Canada, Winning Samaritan: She is a mother of two elementary school aged children and this past winter arranged a teddy bear drive within the community. The gently used teddy bears were collected and were sent to Haiti to comfort the children misplaced by the earthquake. Lisa successfully initiated the Teddy Bear program and thousands of teddy bears were donated. Presently, Lisa is involved in collecting milk bags (the outer bag) that are cut and crocheted into sleeping mats. The mats are to be shipped to countries throughout the world who have experienced natural disasters and where the need for bedding is great. By Christine Cristiano

Lori Booth, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Winner Against the Odds:After two separate vehicle accidents in her late teens, Lori was told she would never walk again or have children. She proved the doctors wrong and re-learned how to walk, ride her horse and race her snowmobile. Plagued with physical setbacks, for the last six years, Lori has dealt with a debilitating and rare condition stemming from a severe whiplash injury. She has fought countless battles with her provincial insurance company and the federal health care system. Forced to find her own treatment options and surgeon in the United States, Lori is just now beginning to experience a pain free and “normal” existence. Consistently upbeat and extremely compassionate, Lori gives us all hope and perspective. By Jenn Sharp

Louis Spronken, Vancouver Island, Canada, Winning Environmentalist: Louis Spronken, aged 67, has lived on the island all his life. Beginning his career in women’s fashion, he soon found that he had a passion for recycling, when bottle depots and recycling centers were more than obsolete. Starting off his first depot in the small city of Duncan, he became a founding father of the Recycling Industry and now has five recycling centers on Vancouver Island. Although he began his depots collecting only empty beverage containers, he now accepts a multitude of items for proper recycling (i.e. paint, oil, electronics, milk containers, etc.) Spronken, with his innovative ideas and foresight, has helped to launch B.C. into the 21st century, along with the realities and need for creating a sustainable environment. By Linda Park

Paul Larche, Midland, Ontario Canada. Winner in Business: A media mogul who has left a positive mark on his community. A musician and radio host who started from the ground up in the broadcasting business in Timmins, working his way up through the ranks to program director and operations managers, Paul acquired his own chain of radio stations that are now a force to be reckoned with here in south-central Ontario. Based in Midland,  about 120 miles north of Toronto, Larche Communications began in 1997 when it acquired CICZ in Midland. Larche later expanded to Waterloo when it was licensed to open a new station, CIKZ. The company later entered an agreement with Rogers Media in 2007, selling CIKZ to that company in exchange for CICX. Larche’s application for a new radio station in Sudbury was also approved by the CRTC (Canadian_Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) on July 12, 2007. This station, CICS, was officially launched on August 18, 2008. On May 9, 2008, the company had also been granted federal authorization to launch a rock-music formatted station in Owen Sound on 92.3 FM. On November 13, 2008, Larche applied for two new FM radio stations, a hot adult contemporary station in nearby Orillia and a country music station to serve the Bracebridge Ontario area. In 2009, Larche was awarded the Orillia Business Association’s Business Leader of the Year award. By Glenn Wilkins

Philip Bloedown, Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Winning Samaritan: Is a 41 year old single man from who has lived his entire life helping individuals whose circumstances in life has disabled them to supply for their basic survival needs . He has helped single mothers, families with low-incomes, and individuals who almost reached suicide. The bible was Phil’s guide in life, and his determination to help others has put him in $50,000 debt. His procedure is rather astonishing you might find; Philip works part-time jobs cleaning bathrooms, dish washing for restaurants, and grass mower for a neighbor to earn a buck. The pay he receives at the end of the month goes to helping others buy groceries and pay rent. Phil has even lived with an elderly couple for 3 years in order to continue living in their home so they would not have to take up residence in a hospital bed. This brave man deserves to be recognized because he has devoted his entire life to helping others around him, simply by following the lord’s orders on charity and generosity. Phil’s highlights: Phil has saved a single mother of 24 years-old from committing suicide due to financial struggles. He has also helped another 26-years-old single mother by co-signing her car lease so she can afford insurance. Phil has also helped a man who has traveled from Ireland to Canada with no money and little to survive on by lending him his car to use to get around for three years. By Tamara Tarchichi

Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Ottawa Canada. Winning Benefactor: Rabbi Bulka is the leader of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa since 1967. He has wriiten over 30 books and countless articles in the fields of religion, health, and psychology. He is a committed volunteer and serves on numerous boards and participates in many charity events. He is the founder of Kindness Week in Ottawa which encourages everyone in the community to be kinder towards each other. By Mike Martin

Renee Clarke. Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Winning Citizen: Renee’s son, Eric, struggled with drug addiction for years. One day Eric overdosed and 4 months later passed away. Distraught as she was, Renee raised awareness in her community about drug addiction and committed to helping Eric’s girlfriend, Erika, with the same issues. Renee would make a “Winners Within” us story because although she is continually coping with her loss, she is able to find the strength to spread awareness about drug addiction and mental health to help whoever else is experiencing the same battles. By Jessica Maiorano

Sharon Rutherford, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada. Winning Teacher: College biology teacher Sharon Rutherford stands out as an educator whose commitment to her students goes far beyond classroom teaching. She links students and research scientists through The Lab Project she initiated in 1997. She supports the intellectual, moral and creative development of her students. In her leisure time, Rutherford volunteers for Fair Trade. By Chris Gibb.

Sheila Nichols, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, Winning Citizen: Sheila is a very special lady. Now in her late sixties she has been the mainstay of the community’s efforts to save what can be saved of our history and help keep the development of our small town of Maple Ridge under control. Since coming to the area she has fought for the conservation of houses, trees, views, old farms and has been a constant support to the local museum. Sheila has won several awards, including the Queen’s medal for her efforts and writes a weekly column in the local news paper. She is involved in the Historical Society and gives talks on local history. She has also been part of at least two books documenting the area. Even after her Husband became terminally ill, she continued with her work and remains in the forefront of efforts to keep the town and its many new-comers aware of a very rich heritage. By Liz Hancock

Students at Lexington Public School, Waterloo, Ontario Canada. Winning Benefactors: The students at Lexington Public School in Waterloo, Ontario, symbolically completed Terry Fox’ Run across Canada. After Terry Fox lost his leg to cancer, he decided to raise money for research by running across Canada, but the cancer caused him abandon his journey in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lexington students, ages 12 and under, ran a total of 9 300 kilometers around their school yard and park through rain and snow to complete his goal. By JM Prescott

Sueli Carranza. Toronto, Canada. Winning Mother: Like many immigrant families, both my parents  worked hard so they could give me the best life possible in a country they were strangers to. Because of this need to provide, my Mom suffered a work related accident in early 2000′s which caused her to have a herniated disk. Now, 10 years later, she is confined to a wheelchair but still manages to live on, contributing, in her condition of being in a wheelchair at 56 years old. By Pablo Carranza

Tanya Bilsbury, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Winning Citizen: Tanya Bilsbury has lived with type 1 diabetes since childhood. She is a 21 year old psychology student at Dalhousie University in Halifax. As well as being a full time student, Tanya volunteers at the university lab, tutors other students in statistics, and works at the Dalhousie Library. In the midst of a very hectic lifestyle, Tanya is a positive and energetic force in her community. She aspires to one day become a clincal psychologist. She is a prime example of someone not who not only perseveres, but also inspires others to make great achievements. By Carrie Gilbert

Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Winning Environmentalist: Ta’Kaiya,13 years old, lives in North Vancouver and is from the Sliammon First Nation. Ta’Kaiya is an activist supporting environmental sustainability. Singer and song writer, she is best known for her song “Shallow Waters”; written to raise awareness about the Enbridge Corporation’s proposed oil pipeline planned between the Alberta Tar Sands and Kitimat, B.C.  By Sean Kravetsky

Trossman family of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Winning Parents: Jacob Trossman was born with an incurable disease known as PMD-this means he was born without myelin. Jacob’s mother is the amazing Marcy White and his amazing father is Andrew Trossman. For the last the nine years The Trossman’s have travelled all over the world in search of any medication to help Jacob. At 9, he can’t eat or speak but there is a wonderful happy little boy in there. His journey involves his parents finding out how his mother came to learn how her son inherited this disease from her genes  through studying her family tree. The Trossman’s also sought help from Agusto Odone-father of the late Lorenzo Odone (Lorenzo’s Oil) Their amazing story can’t be summed up in 50 words but they have a wonderful blog.  www.curepmd.blogspot.com/  Jacob’s story is not only about helping Jacob physically but it is about helping  him to have a wonderful life!!!! By Jennifer Pollock

Tyler Shelast, Kelowna, B.C., Canada. Winning Athlete: He is a winner in the community because he has worked incredibly hard to achieve his dream. He has just signed a 2 year contract with the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League. He was never drafted and had many doubts about giving up but he kept with it and became more mentally strong. He has a good attitude and knows that his challenge has only begun. By Matt Varga