The Courage to Give Back Awards recognizes extraordinary individuals in our community who have overcome adversity in their personal lives. Not only have they found courage to overcome obstacles, they also inspire others by giving back to their communities.
Sherry Keizer - Adsum House
Amazing Grace Award
The Amazing Grace recipient has the courage to face overwhelming circumstances and turn it into an opportunity to better the lives of others. He or she has surmounted barriers and continues to fight for what is right, through a graceful gentle spirit and a natural inclination to bring out good in others. Their advocacy and accomplishments have significantly contributed to the well-being of families.
Sherry Keizer has lived in the North End of Halifax for almost her entire life, she has a strong sense of community and love for her family. Sherry is able to give back significantly to her community despite having several personal challenges in her life. Sherry continues to be a vibrant contributor to the life of her community.
Shortly following a car accident 20 years ago, this single mother of two was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The effects of the car accident and MS have prevented her from being able to remain in the workforce. Adjusting was very difficult as she was no longer able to do what she loved, work as a Teaching Assistant at St. Patrick’s School. She wanted to show her children (and later her granddaughter) that you can never give up, you need to find new ways to make a difference, and have meaning in your life – a reason to get out of bed.
Sherry over time started to volunteer. For several years, she volunteered in the library at Joseph Howe School. Looking for a change and a volunteer opportunity closer to home, Sherry started at Adsum House. For over four years, Sherry has volunteered in the Déjà vu Clothing Room to help the clients that come to Adsum House. Sherry is also a Scout Leader of Scouts Canada, with the 2nd Halifax Beavers group that is run out of the St. George’s Church. Sherry attends weekly meetings and helps with all of the programs and activities for the children.
Scott Jones - Don't BE Afraid
Brave Heart Award
A Brave Heart is one that beats strongly and loudly, motivating others to be the best they can be. Despite many challenges, they persevere, overcoming obstacles, and defying expectations. This recipient has found the courage to make significant changes in their own life and inspire others through their personal growth and dedication to do the same.
In October 2013, on Thanksgiving weekend, Scott Jones’ life changed forever. He was attacked, and stabbed in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Despite this extremely traumatic experience that altered the course of his life, Scott has not only overcome the challenge of adjusting to life with a disability, he has initiated a movement of change, demonstrated incredible courage and leadership, and has become an advocate for individuals who face social and physical barriers. In the days following his attack, a friend of Scott’s asked him what words he wanted to put on a button that she was designing as a fundraiser for him. Scott chose ‘Don’t BE Afraid’. He wanted to turn an act of hate into an opportunity to examine and relinquish the fears that surround intolerance.
Scott has become an incredible role model for those who face adversity or hardship. He has personally committed himself to a “try everything” philosophy. He overcame a intense fear that because of his disability he would not be able to do the things he use to enjoy. He has since become a rower, he’s on a track team, and completed a triathlon, he’s been surfing as part of the Life Rolls On Campaign, he went skydiving, is an avid swimmer and recently flew a plane. Scott is the Founder & President of Don’t BE Afraid (LGBTQ Awareness Society), the Artistic Director of VOX Choir, and a partner with Easter Seals: Drop Zone.
Neville MacKay - My Mother's Bloomers
Indomitable Spirit Award
The Indomitable Spirit is not only a leader in our community, but a force to drive change and motivates others. He or she has true determination, conviction and dedication to their community. They demonstrate what it really means to invest “yourself” in a cause. This individual’s passion is evident in their work, and the heart they put into each project.
From an early age, Neville learned to look at things in a different way; finding the beauty and strength in people and nature. Seeing how resilient and enduring nature is inspires him in his work, in his personal life and in giving back to the community. His father taught him about Nature, while his mum taught him to take time and count the morning glories.
Neville opened My Mother’s Bloomers in 1992, after moving back to Nova Scotia from Alberta where he was an apprentice under a German master florist. Neville is an international speaker and floral designer, a member of the Canadian Academy of Floral Art, Professional Floral Communicators International, and the World Flower Counsel. He became a household name and is known for his stunning flower arrangements from his regular appearances on CTV Atlantic’s Morning Live and surprise appearances on C100FM. From providing flowers for the Royal Family, international weddings and hosting tours in the U.K., Neville finds time to give back to his community.
He is very active and dedicated in helping many local non-profits and charities. From “King Neville” at a Princess Tea Party for the Children’s Wish Foundation, to dropping his pants for Prostate Cancer, or full drag emceeing for AIDS Coalition Nova Scotia, he motivates those around him and offers support to make our community a better place. Mostly, Neville sees the love and joy in so many simple acts of kindness and celebrates that at every opportunity!
Craig MacDonald - Craig Mac Comfort Initiative
Unsung Hero Award
While the Unsung Hero may not seek the spotlight, he or she is constantly giving back to those around them. They have made substantial and significant contributions to the community, but have rarely received the recognition they deserve. He or she is a pillar of strength and support on which the community can rely. They inspire and encourage us at Family SOS, to ensure no good deed goes unnoticed, through their kindness and positivity.
Craig MacDonald has been living with an undiagnosed neuromuscular disease for the last 20 years of his life. He endured his first muscle attack at the age of 17, which left him hospitalized for two weeks. Sadly that muscle attack would prove to be the first of many.
Craig’s worst attack to date occurred in 2014 while he was living in Edmonton isolated from friends and family. This attack would see him living in the hospital for over two months in an attempt to diagnose his disease as well as manage his symptoms.
Throughout his own personal struggles, Craig has not lost focus on his passion for giving back. In 2006, while in the middle of his own medical crisis Craig started hosting New Year’s parties in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation. To date Craig has granted eight wishes to children in need.
In 2015, Craig decided it was time to focus giving back to the Neuromuscular Unit at the QEII foundation, a cause close to his heart. He established the “Craig Mac Comfort Initiative” or the “CMCI” in order to provide financial relief and comfort to those families that like him are affected by a neuromuscular disease.
Craig continues to defy expectations on a daily basis. He perseveres through the pain and challenges that his disease presents and has never lost focus on giving back to others. Craig’s motivation and courageous heart are contagious to all of those lucky enough to meet him.
Cassidy Megan - Purple Day
Inspiring Youth Award
This is awarded to a youth who has overcome personal barriers, has shown personal growth and demonstrates leadership in their community. Their values to give back to the community and continue their efforts to strive towards a pro-social choices, encourages us to do the same.
Cassidy is a grade 12 student and like many Canadians, she has an Epilepsy Seizure Disorder. She was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was nine years old. Instead of letting epilepsy rule her life Cassidy has ruled epilepsy. After realizing that many of her teachers and classmates did not understand the disorder she immediately worked to raise awareness. She created Purple Day, a very successful grassroots awareness campaign about Epilepsy Seizure Disorder.
Through her efforts, she pushed Parliament of Canada to recognize March 26 as Purple Day through Bill C-278-The Purple Day Act. In June of 2012, the Purple Day Act received royal assent and became law. Since then the Purple Day Awareness campaign has given talks on Purple Day across North America and Japan.
From the age of nine until now Cassidy has accumulated many accolades, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Inaugural Power of Change Award from the Province of Nova Scotia, and the Epilepsy Queensland Australia of the Year Award.
Cassidy aspires to go into journalism or the medical field. She manages her epilepsy, school, modeling, archery, guest blog writing (including Dr. Alan Green’s website in the USA), spending time with family and friends and remaining to be the driving force behind Purple Day. She is known across the municipality for going above and beyond for various charities and community projects.