A young person with a natural gift for communication and public relations, Ben MacDonald, has been selected as Rotary Ambassador, Easter Seals Campaign for a second term. Having spent 2015 as the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie’s Easter Seals Ambassador, this 15 year old student from White Pines C&VS is continuing in the role of Ambassador. Ben is the perfect blend of champion, sincere heart and motivational speaker, as saultonline discovered when welcomed into the home of the MacDonald family. Two dogs named Morty and Brutus, Ben’s parents Heidi and Scott, two local teachers, and sister Meghan make up the MacDonald household.
Reflecting on his year as Easter Seals Ambassador for 2015, Ben shared “I really enjoyed getting to express my thoughts; being able to talk to a whole range of people, and thank them for their contributions. Letting people know that they really are making a difference. It’s not just a faceless organization.(Easter Seals). It has a face and a voice. Easter Seals supports people who rely on them, some tremendously, for help.”
“I feel like by directly connecting with people, it helps to let them know that their contributions are truly making a difference. As the ambassador, I want to extend my gratitude for everything people do within the organization, as well as people who support the Easter Seals financially.”
One of the highlights for Ben personally in his 2015 ambassadorship, was speaking to staff of the TD Bank. “Last year, we did TD Bank’s Change for Change Campaign.” Prior to the campaign unfolding, Ben went and spoke to staff at the TD Bank who he found to be very welcoming. “I gave a ‘pep talk’ about how their support works to the benefit of Easter Seals and all of its patrons. They were very receptive and some of them even got ‘teared up’ a little. That I could have such an impact on people, was very special for me.” he said. Speaking with Ben MacDonald, it is easy to understand how his words would serve as inspiration for people to be moved into a ‘call to action.’
“There was a fervor on the day that I spoke to people at the TD Bank. They were very eager to support Easter Seals, and people told me that my speech had really ignited a fire in them to want to help. I felt very honoured to be able to support Easter Seals in this way.”
Interests for Ben include reading books, and playing video games. He particularly likes music, and being part of The Semi-Pinetones Band (Grade 9/10,White Pines C&VS). He enjoys performing at coffee houses where the Pinetones and Semi-Pinetones play together. “I find that quite enjoyable.” said Ben.
Ben is interested in pursuing writing and has a special interest in psychology. “What my career will be, I’m not entirely sure, but I hope it involves writing in some way.”
“Ben loves to write. He’s extremely creative, and has written several stories, raps, poems.” shared Scott MacDonald, Ben’s proud dad. ” He got the highest overall academic average in high school last year.” Outstanding Ben! Congratulations. Add high achiever to the list of attributes for this Easter Seals Ambassador.
With mobility as an issue for Ben, he uses an electric wheelchair at school. Generally, for short distances, he is very good on his feet. Ben was diagnosed with Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) at the age of four years.
As I get older, my muscles will get weaker, and we will need help with things like a ramp for the van, travel expenses for medical appointments, things like that. These are all things that Easter Seals will be able to help us with in the future.”
“We’ll be looking into ramps and lifts for the house.” shared Scott
“Every donation does matter” said Ben. “It does add up. Take the TD Bank campaign, for example. We were counting pennies and more pennies; at the end of the day all of those pennies were totalled up, and equated to a lot. Every little bit does help.”
Over 30 volunteers came together on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at the Cambrian Mall to roll the coin for deposit.
“Easter Seals is an amazing organization.” said Scott.
The annual Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie’s Easter Seals Telethon gets underway Sunday, April 3rd, noon to 7 pm. The live broadcast (Shaw TV, cable channel 10) from the Municipal Council Chambers will include Ben doing some of the on-air hosting duties along with returning host, local broadcaster extraordinaire, Jeffrey McNeice from Today’s Best Country, 104.3 Country, McNeice in the Morning. These two fellows will, no doubt, keep things hopping as pledges, groups and individuals pour into Council Chambers at City Hall.
Thank you 2016 Easter Seals Ambassador Ben MacDonald for all you do to cheer on Rotary & the Easter Seals organizations. Between studying and music, reading and writing, Ben MacDonald finds time to be a true change maker in our community. Magnifique. C’est Bon.
‘Easter Seals is a non-profit organization that helps youth with physical disabilities gain independence, freedom, and realize their potential through such initiatives as offering monetary assistance to families purchasing mobility equipment and communication devices, and sending children to fully accessible summer camps. These programs reduce the financial strain on families caring for a child with a severe disability, which can cost an additional $40,000 each year.
Ben did a fantastic job as our Ambassador for 2015, and we are excited to have him back for a second term in 2016!’. (rotarysault.com)
Easter Seals Ontario runs Camp Merrywood, with activities that include canoeing, kayaking, extended out-trips, and sailing as well as Camp Woodeden where sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball, rock climbing and a fully accessible high ropes course are some of the activities offered. Eligibility for Easter Seals camp is for young people between the ages of 8-18 years as of July 1 (of the program year) and are registered with Easter Seals Ontario.
A 5-day Family Camp is also offered at each site, and according to the website, eastersealscamps.org, both dates in August 2016 are FULL! That certainly says something about the importance of Easter Seals programming.
Easter Seals Camp Merrywood, built in 1948, is located on a beautiful peninsula stretching out into Big Rideau Lake. The camp sits on 30 acres of property between Smiths Falls and Perth in Eastern Ontario. Overlooking the Thames River on the outskirts of London, Easter Seals Camp Woodeden is situated on 107 acres of beautifully landscaped ground that includes an accessible tree house, a collection of trees/plants from around the world, and beautiful Japanese influenced architecture. Originally known as “Woodholm,” Easter Seals acquired the property in 1946 to create a camp in southwestern Ontario for Easter Seals kids.
Easter Seals Ontario provides programs and services to children and youth with physical disabilities across Ontario to help them achieve greater independence, accessibility and integration.
The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie’s Easter Seals Telethon, as well as TD Change for Change campaign info here: http://rotarysault.com