Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament 2012

A list of celebrities at the Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament
A list of some past and present celebs of the tournament

This past Friday was the 17th annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament, an event Rotary runs yearly in my honour to raise money to help find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy. This event is without a doubt the high point of my summer and something I look forward to every year. Once again, we had a packed field of golfers who braved the heat for a good cause, raising over $25,000 to be donated to Jesse’s Journey. I am absolutely humbled and forever thankful for continued support of the Port Elgin community getting behind this tournament in a huge way for nearly 2 decades. For all of those involved in the planning, operating, playing and sponsoring of this tournament, I cannot say thank you enough.

This year also came with some particularly shocking news. As you may or may not know, I have spent the past two years attempting to find a way to drive a vehicle independently. My dream of driving a car took a serious blow in late 2011 when I was informed the only way I could drive was with advanced hand controls and automated ramp system which would cost close to $90,000 — adaptions that are not covered/augmented by any government or non-profit funding available to me. It appeared there was no realistic way to make this dream a reality in the near future.

Cheque presentation at the 17th Annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament
Cheque Presentation

I was surprised, however, on Friday night by an announcement at the tournament from Duncan Hawthorne (CEO of Bruce Power) that the requisite money had been raised in collaboration with Port Elgin Rotary and I will be receiving a fully adapted van in the next few weeks. That’s right, sports fans, I will be driving by the end of the month! After all these years I will finally be able to drive independently…and three days later I’m still kind of speechless.

I could honestly gush for hours and hours about how thankful I am but honestly words don’t even begin to express how thankful I am. To this point I have lived a charmed life and it is all thanks to the limitless support I have received from my family, friends and surrounding community. Thank you for believing in me, supporting me, and I promise this van will be put to good use.

Thank you.

Speaking Engagements

Night of Heroes event

Although not a “speaking engagement” so to speak, tonight I was asked to be a part of Community Living London’s “Night of Heroes” fundraiser. I was teamed up with my old friend Mark Anderson (who I met on the London Accessibility Advisory Committee at City Hall many moons ago) to strut down the runway in a pseudo fashion show that was more about dancing then being particularly fashionable…which is a good thing because we all know I’m not the most fashionable gent out there. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a dancer either and was definitely shown up by the Mayor of Sarnia, Mike Bradley. That guy can really cut a rug.

A great night, through and through, with a ton of money raised for a great cause.

Mobilize March -- Travel Blog

Mobilize March v2.0 for Easter Seals Ontario

From the moment I was diagnosed at 3 months old with Congenital, Muscular Dystrophy my parents raised me to be a fighter. While my parents acknowledged there would be challenges, they truly believed life with a disability did not have to be a life of no ability. It is because of their undying support that I have been able to accomplish some pretty amazing things in my short life, all because they wouldn’t let me use the word “can’t.” In many ways, it was for my parents that I set off from London in 2008, to honour their hard work and help show the people of Ontario just how “able” someone with a disability could be. On my trip to Ottawa, I hoped to show people that contrary to the popular euphemism “confined to a wheelchair,” wheelchairs are actually about freedom. Unfortunately, wheelchairs are expensive pieces of equipment, the average electric chair running over $20,000, with limited funding to offset the burden placed on families whose youth have disabilities. The result are youth left stuck, immobile in their own homes, watching their friends play as they wait for funding to come through.

Enter Easter Seals Ontario. Easter Seals is an organization that helps fund the costs of these crucial pieces of equipment to help get kids moving again. Over the years, Easter Seals has helped thousands of families like mine purchase equipment that helps us overcome our limitations and live independent lives. Recently though, as our community tightens our collective belts, Easter Seals London had to waitlist two families in dire need of equipment funding last year, a nightmare scenario set to repeat itself this year as international disasters have diverted much of the local moneys to support those worthy causes. The result, however, is more families in London may be waitlisted this year, left in the lurch, waiting for equipment that is needed now.

On May 29th in Springbank Park, supporters of Easter Seals are gathering for the “Walk With Me” event to help raise money to ensure this does not happen. Youth and adults alike from the London community will be using their legs to help kids with disabilities get moving and it didn’t seem right for me to not do my part and help out. It is for this reason that on Friday, May 28th of 2010, I am taking to the road once again, this time driving my electric wheelchair around the circumference of London to raise awareness about the dire need of funding for Easter Seals in London to help us continue to support youth with disabilities in our community. The marathon will take me over 10 hours to complete, start to finish, and will be the longest drive in a single day that I have ever made in my electric wheelchair, totaling over 90km. The trip will be tough and the road will be long, but it’s a journey that would not have been possible without organizations like Easter Seals to help pay for the wheelchair. On May 28th of 2010, I will show London just how able we can be if we have the right support and that’s where you come in.

On Friday, while I’m out on the road, show your support by going to the Easter Seals Ontario website and making a donation online or make a donation to support a friend or family member who is participating in the “Walk With Me” event on Saturday. Your donation will go a long way to getting kids with disabilities in London moving again.