Two years ago, Northlands began a tradition of honouring deserving Albertans through its Local Heroes Contest in partnership with Global Edmonton.
Winners are recognized in the K-Days Parade and receive a $2,000 donation towards a charity or not-for-profit of their choice.
Members of the public submit nominations and then judges narrow down the list to four winners. The winners also serve as honorary K-Days Parade marshals.
This year’s Local Heroes include a disability advocate who helped make history at Western Canada Fashion Week, a man who flies people to medical appointments and Edmontonian dedicated to #MakeItAwkward.
Bean Gill – Champion of the Underdog
Gill has proven that having a disability does not define who you are or limit what you can accomplish. After her sudden paralysis in 2012, Gill has worked relentlessly to eliminate the stigma surrounding people with disabilities.
She partnered up with her trainer, Nancy, and opened up the ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre. The centre focuses on motivating and promoting recovery within individuals suffering from spinal injuries or other impairments.
Edmonton has few existing recovery centres like this one, so the creation of the ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre is a huge milestone for individuals with disabilities in Edmonton.
Gill has added to her support for the disabled community by contributing to the University of Alberta’s new Online Certificate in Sexual Health, which will open up a much-needed discussion in the community. Gill also partnered with Alberta Medical Supplies to get models with disabilities up on the runway at Western Canada Fashion Week.
Whether it is achieving these great accomplishments, making progress in her own recovery or achieving her fitness goals, Gill is an inspiration. Gill strives to represent and redefine the public perception of people with disabilities. She is undoubtedly a Champion of the Underdog.
($2,000 donation to ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre)
Greg Kopchuk – Community Builder
Medical appointments can be stressful for anyone and this stress is only intensified when individuals have to travel long distances for medical services. Angel Flight Alberta aims to ease this stress by providing free air transportation to individuals living in rural areas who need to access centralized medical care facilities in Edmonton and Calgary.
Greg Kopchuk has dedicated countless hours towards Angel Flight Alberta to ensure that patients whose medical or financial situation inhibits their ability to travel will get the care they need. Kopchuk donates his time and abilities to arrange fundraisers and donations for Angel Flight and on top of that, he contributes a portion of his own earnings to the cause.
In addition to this generosity, Kopchuk has also raised $2,000 for the Easter Seals Alberta, a charity that provides services to foster inclusion, independence and recreation for individuals with disabilities and medical conditions.
Nominated by his family, this is a testament that Kopchuk is regarded as a hero by those who interact with him every day and see the impact, not just on their lives, but on those of many others. We are proud to recognize Kopchuk as our Community Builder.
($2,000 donation to Angel Flight Alberta)
Jesse Lipscombe – Community Mentor
Jesse Lipscombe is an actor, producer, entrepreneur and activist based in Edmonton. In his youth, he began acting and also received numerous awards in Track and Field. Through it all, Lipscombe’s top priority has been giving back to his community, which he’s done through multiple annual fundraisers and partnerships with Edmonton charities such as WIN House and iHuman.
In September 2016, he was filming a video about his love for downtown Edmonton when a man in a nearby car interrupted in a most unpleasant way. The man began shouting racial slurs at Lipscombe as the camera continued to roll. Lipscombe posted the video to his Facebook page to raise awareness about the aggression that racial minorities have to face on a daily basis.
From this experience, he began the #MakeItAwkward campaign alongside his wife, Julia Lipscombe, which encourages witnesses of racist remarks to safely speak up, even if it opens up an uncomfortable conversation about the normalization of racist comments in society.
In addition to his work with the #MakeItAwkward campaign, Lipscombe has volunteered with the Sky Club, run through the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. The Sky Club is a program for children and youth that provides homework help as well as other fun activities. Lipscombe’s many excellent contributions to those around him make him true Community Mentor.
($2,000 donation to Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (Sky Club))
Samantha Tan – Young Hero
At just 16 years of age, Samantha Tan has a full workload at high school with an IB academic schedule. On top of this, she manages to spend time every week giving back to her community. She has volunteered for the Edmonton Food Bank, Heart of the City Festival and as a cadet at various events throughout the community. Currently, Tan volunteers each week at TELUS World of Science Edmonton as an interpretive volunteer on the science team to help promote science education and inspire others to explore the world around them.
Tan is eager to learn new things and to engage with science in new and exciting ways. She seeks out opportunities for training, researches information independently and doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Along with a fantastic attitude, a friendly demeanour and an eagerness to learn and to share what she knows, she has the ability to adjust her communication style to the age of the person she is working with, a skill that even adults struggle to gain.
It is Tan’s goal to pursue a career in medicine, furthering her passion to help others. Along that path, she has chosen to volunteer her time to enhance her skills and knowledge, and then share that knowledge to educate, inspire and benefit others. Tan is a Young Hero who is making a difference now and we know she will make an impact in the future.
($2,000 donation to Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS))
The K-Days Parade is a celebration of summer, culture and community in the Capital Region.
This year’s parade takes place on July 21 at 10 a.m. Stay tuned to Global News for complete coverage – on TV and online.
Northlands is proud of the Local Heroes who will serve as honourary parade marshals in the 138th edition of K-Days in Edmonton.