Calgary Walk for Muscular Dystrophy Ambassador: Candisse

Candisse-Calgary Ambassador2My name is Candisse McCormick. I am flattered to be one of this year’s Alberta Walk for Muscular Dystrophy Ambassadors.  I have been involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada for many years, at many different levels, so this is a true honor.  It also brings back many memories from my childhood when I was 5 years old and a Poster Child for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

As anyone affected by muscular dystrophy knows, life is a battle. You are always faced with challenges, but I believe that as long as you stay optimistic you can overcome anything.  As an ambassador I am suppose to share my story, inspire people, and influence you to do your part to help make muscles move.  The thing is, for me I don’t feel as though I have “a story” it’s just my life as I know it.  So I will do my best to give you a glimpse into my life.  One thing that I always like to share when I am asked to “tell my story” is that I don’t do this to make people feel sorry for me, or to pray for a better life for me.  I have a GREAT life, and everything that I have been through has made me the person I am today.

Candisse as a "Poster Child" for Muscular Dystrophy Canada

Candisse as a “Poster Child” for Muscular Dystrophy Canada

At 18 months old, my parents were given the news and I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1.  Of course this news is always devastating, but it doesn’t help that back then the “statistics” about those with SMA showed a very short life span.  Mine was that I wouldn’t live past the age of 9.  They say a lady should never tell her age, but I’ll make an exception for all of you. January 15th of this year I turned 30.  Overall I have lived a pretty average life, other then the fact that at the age of 3, I received and started using my first power wheelchair. I went to regular public school, graduated High School, took some college classes, and now I have started my own business as an event planner.  Only thing different from my story as opposed to others is that I learned to adapt to situations and surroundings as life moved forward.  From adapted school workloads, to now making sure event spaces are accessible. I have never gone through life with any what if’s, or feeling like I have missed out on certain things in life because of my physical disability.

Candisse-Calgary AmbassadorBeing involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) and the Walk for Muscular Dystrophy gives me the ability to raise awareness and funds to help people like me live their life to the fullest.  Having any type of MD can be expensive…power wheelchairs, home adaptations, special seating, adapted vehicles; the list goes on…these things all cost thousands of dollars.  It’s organizations like MDC who help us obtain the funding or items to help make our lives easier.  Over years they have helped me personally with the purchase of a tract lift, hospital-style bed, and most exciting to me – a new wheelchair adapted van.   All of these items are ones that are getting me one step closer to being as fully independent as I can me…which is what I have always wanted.

As a 2013 Walk for Muscular Dystrophy Ambassador I promise to do my best to share my story like I have here, promote and share information about muscular dystrophy, and raise funds for the Walk for MD in hopes of carrying out the overall goal of finding a cure for muscular dystrophy.

March Break for a good cause

march break 002Kaitlyn, a grade three student, and Caroline, a grade 11 student, in Toronto both spent a good deal of time at the Muscular Dystrophy Canada National office during their March break.

Caroline chose to volunteer for three days during her March break because she wanted to be helpful to the organization where her mother works in the finance department.  She explained, “I’d be doing nothing at home, so why not come in and help somebody?”  Caroline spent time labeling and preparing envelopes and folding tax receipts.  While Caroline has already exceeded her requirement, volunteering is a great way for high school students to accumulate their community service hours.

Kaitlyn came to the office all five days of her March break, and enjoyed every minute.  She was a bubbly presence in the office and contributed a lot during her time “at work.”  Kailtyn, whose mother also works in the finance department at the National office, spent time preparing envelopes and tax receipts as well as accompanying the receptionist on her trips to the post office.  She even learned how to use the mailing machine.  Kaitlyn was really proud to have helped finish folding hundreds of tax receipts, which is a necessary task for the organization, she explained as she held up her two fingers, “we got them done in only two days!”

march break volunteers 003Both girls got to spend time with their mothers and new friends from the office during lunch breaks.  They could be found with earphones in while keeping busy as they worked by listening to music and watching movies on Kaitlyn’s tablet.

Office volunteers are a huge asset to Muscular Dystrophy Canada.  There are many tasks waiting to be completed by dedicated volunteers which assist with the administrative and fundraising aspects of the organization.  Caroline and Kaitlyn chose to volunteer their time for a good cause during time off from school so that they could say they made a huge impact and spent their time in a productive and worthwhile way.  The National office thanks Caroline and Kaitlyn for their dedication!  If you are interested in learning more about being an office volunteer at any Muscular Dystrophy Canada location, please visit our website and contact your regional office.

You’re Invited to…Pasta Fest in support of the Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

Untitled-1In support of the 2013 Sarnia Walk for Muscular Dystrophy, Team Walk for Ward is coming together to reach their fundraising goal and have fun while doing it!

Lisa Headrick-SarniaTeam Walk for Ward, made up of family and friends supporting Ward Headrick, is holding their first annual Pasta Fest. Community members are invited to spend an evening with family and friends while supporting a great cause.

The event will include a bake table, prize raffle and entertainment!

There are only 400 tickets available so get there early!

 Date: Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Location:  Dante Club – 1330 London Rd, Sarnia (Map)

Time: Doors open at 4:30 pm, dinner is served from 5-7pm

Day in the Life: Sparky the firedog at the HOP for Muscular Dystrophy

Hop at Bedford SouthThe HOP for Muscular Dystrophy is a national educational fundraising initiative that promotes compassion, caring and acceptance of differing abilities. The program provides an early introduction to inclusiveness and an understanding that physical differences do not change people on the inside to pre-school and elementary school-aged children.

HOP events occur in most Canada provinces around Easter time.  Each year, more than 10,000 children in Atlantic Canada “hop” to make a difference for families affected by a neuromuscular disorder.

Sydney LewisSparky the firedog loves to visit kids and thank them for supporting Muscular Dystrophy Canada; Fire Fighters have been Muscular Dystrophy Canada heroes since 1954.

Sydney Lewis, a 10 year old student in Grade 5 at Alderney Elementary School in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is suiting up this year to put some “spark” into Sparky. Sydney loves her iPod Touch and Sim game, is a choco-holic and enjoys hanging out with friends. Sydney’s brother Kaleb is 12 is affected by Becker’s muscular dystrophy and her entire family volunteers with the Halifax Chapter of Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

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8:00 a.m.: Crawwwwwl out of bed; sure is chilly and dark out! Breakfast and be ready for pick up at 8:30 a.m.

Sparky at Hops9:00 a.m.: Arrive at Alderney Elementary School. Change quickly into Sparky gear including very large and heavy head and giant shoes! Do the “YMCA,” “the Chicken Dance” and the “Electric slide” with 100 elementary students.  Hugs and high fives to all of the hoppers who present Muscular Dystrophy Canada with a cheque for $1100! Now it’s time for a picture with the top fundraising student and school principal. The student is excited to know he’s won “Firefighter for A Day” and will get a ride to school in a fire truck next week.

11:45 a.m.: Arrive at Bedford South Elementary School — wow 460 excited students sure are noisy!!  I watch kids filing into the gym by class wearing their brightly colored and decorated bunny ears. Six year old Wesley Collins, who is affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, attends this school and is happy to see the entire school turns out to show their support! Watch quietly as the HOP for Muscular Dystrophy DVD is shown which teaches the students more about muscular dystrophy, caring and differing abilities. Then it’s time to hop, dance and MOVE our muscles! Join Bedford Volunteer Fire Fighters in thanking students and teachers for participating in the year’s HOP for Muscular Dystrophy and smile for the camera as CTV News films a HOP segment for Breakfast TV.

2:00 p.m.:  Arrive at Kids R Kids Daycare in Halifax- now these kids are little! Sparky and Muscular Dystrophy Canada staff visit each class and get lots and lots of hugs and high fives! The group listens to a story and then line up to receive a Muscular Dystrophy tattoo.

Sparky3:00 p.m.: We get to Voyageur Lakes Kids Academy, and these kids LOVE Sparky!  A few are a wee bit scared but Sparky waves and gets a smile and some hugs.

3:45 p.m.:  A quick stop at the Military and Family Resource Centre on the Halifax Naval Base and Sparky makes time for some healthy bunny snacks with the hoppers.  An obstacle course in their gym is a great way to move muscles, Sparky isn’t very fast but he makes it through.

4:30 p.m.: This is the end of Sparky’s day so it’s back to being Sydney.  After a dog day afternoon, Sydney is VERY tired and a little sweaty too! It’s worth it because the HOP campaign was an awesome day raising money and awareness for families affected by muscular dystrophy.

Lowe’s Canada supports Buck4Luck

Waterloo B4LIn 2009, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse made a commitment to assist Canadians living with a neuromuscular disorder by participating in Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s Buck for Luck Campaign.  This year the Lowe’s Canada Buck for Luck campaign runs from February 11th  to March 17th at 34 Lowe’s Canada locations in Ontario and Western Canada. During the campaign, Lowe’s invites customers to purchase their “lucky shamrock” for $1 at checkout or at the Customer Service desk.  34 locations are participating this year, and each has their own way of inspiring support from their customers and community.  Many stores plan special events to raise awareness and donations behind asking for support at point of sale.

One of these dedicated stores is in Waterloo, Ontario.  Since the store opened in 2011, West Waterloo (345 The Boardwalk) has been a dedicated member of the Lowe’s Canada Buck for Luck team.  West Waterloo was the top Lowe’s fundraiser in 2011 and 2012, and their team members are enthusiastic supporters of Muscular Dystrophy Canada.  The West Waterloo team tries to come up with innovative ways to fundraise for the cause.  Ross Lynch, Human Resources Manager at Lowe’s West Waterloo, explains they “will be soliciting donations from our customers as they pass through point of sale; however selling Shamrocks are only a small part of the fundraising strategy.  Our staff will be holding many events, including a Bake Sale, Chili Cook-off, BBQ, Hot Dog Eating Contest, and an event where for a fee a Lowe’s associate can take slap shots at Summet [Store Manager] who will be in a hockey net.”

Shamrock_B4LWest Waterloo has found that gaining high participation from their customers is directly connected to the staff associates’ interest and enthusiasm for the campaign.  Ross says, “Lowe’s is an organization with deep philanthropic roots.  Encouraging our customers and associates to support MDC is a two part effort. First we want to educate contributors on where the money is going and how participation in this campaign helps others.  Secondly, drawing on the competitive spirit of our associates, we create excitement and competition against the other stores by challenging them to “friendly” fundraising competitions.”  Our competitive spirit and passion for execution has made West Waterloo a top Lowe’s fundraiser for four years.  They raised $12,700 last year which helped bring the total amount raised by Lowe’s to $150,000!

Funds raised from the Lowe’s Buck for Luck Campaign will go towards Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s Equipment Program and stay within the region they are collected to support local families.  The assistance that Lowe’s Improvement Warehouse and its customers provide, will enable Canadians with neuromuscular disorders in local Lowe’s communities lead independent and healthy lives by helping them obtain assistive devices they require such as wheelchairs and other mobility aids, hospital beds and pressure relief mattresses, and ventilation devices.

Buck for Luck is a fun campaign for Lowe’s to participate in, and not only do the dollars raised create friendly competitions, but each Lowe’s location uses the customers’ “lucky shamrocks” to create designs on their store walls.  West Waterloo loves to decorate this way! Ross shares the plans for this year, “Last year’s design with the leprechaun was definitely the store favourite, but we plan on this year’s being the best yet with shamrocks flowing like a rainbow to a pot of gold. It will really be something as we reach our goal and the shamrocks reach the pot of gold!”  West Waterloo Lowe’s supports Muscular Dystrophy Canada throughout the year, including as volunteers at the Waterloo Walk for Muscular Dystrophy.

The Walk for Muscular Dystrophy is growing in Ontario!

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This year, 17 Walk for Muscular Dystrophy events will be taking place in Ontario and you can participate and make a difference. This family-friendly, fully accessible event is the perfect opportunity to make new friends and build connections.

Here’s what’s new in 2013.

Simcoe Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

Date: Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Location: Centennial Park in Barrie

Time: Registration at 10:00 am, Walk begins at 11:00 am

 

Sarnia Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

Date: Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Location: Canatara Park in Sarnia

Time: Registration at 10:00 am, Walk begins at 11:00 am

 

Eastern Ontario Walk for Muscular Dystrophy (Including Napanee, Belleville, Kingston and surrounding areas)

Date: Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Location: Conservation Park Pavilion in Napanee

Time: Registration at 10:00 am, Walk begins at 11:00 am

 

Sault Ste Marie Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

Date: September 2013, more information coming soon!

For more information or to register for your local Walk for Muscular Dystrophy event, visit our new website www.walkformusculardystrophy.ca.