Finalist Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage: Justin Ernst, OTSS
At the age of 3, Justin Ernst was found to have Epilepsy and was subsequently diagnosed with Apraxia, a condition which makes it difficult to express oneself in words. These challenges led Justin to experience problems in speech development, for which he had to enter years of speech language therapy. His communication skills were further impacted when it was determined that he had a Verbal Learning Disability and Dyslexia. Despite all of the obstacles that he faced, Justin focused his attention on the needs and concerns of those around him. Justin’s uncle, who was suffering from Schizoaffective Disorder, lived with his family for support. His brother, who was also his best friend, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and several other members of his family passed away from cancer. In 2012, Justin came to Ottawa Technical Secondary after having been homeschooled since Grade 5. Justin received Honour Roll recognition in each year of high school, with averages above 90%, showing particular talents in Welding. He involved himself in his school community in other ways, as well. He is a Link Crew leader, a member of the school wrestling team, and a facilitator of a school Community Service group. In his spare time, he volunteers with marginalized youth to help brighten their perspectives, working at camps from Nova Scotia to Manitoulin and spreading his testimony of hope. Justin is heading to Peru the day after graduation so that he can continue to help others in need.
Finalist Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage: Sarah Telford, CHEO
Sarah Telford is a university bound student who holds high academic goals for herself and strives to achieve them in every way possible; even if it means fighting her leukemia. Diagnosed with cancer six years ago at CHEO, she underwent a six month hospitalization where she received intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at the Hospital for Sick Children, and went into remission. Unfortunately, not long after she returned from the Hospital for Sick Children from her transplant her leukemia returned. She was hospitalized for several months and underwent further chemotherapy followed by a second bone marrow transplant again at the Hospital for Sick Children. This time her leukemia has remained in remission but at the expense of severe graft versus host disease. Graft versus host disease is when the donor immune system attacks the recipient (Sarah) and affects several of her organs. This makes her have continuous nausea, severe bone pain, and the worst aspect of all, it has affected her muscles and skin making her unable to manage the every day aspects of life without severe challenges. Although requiring a wheelchair and help with daily life needs, Sarah has been more determined than ever to continue her academic career with nothing that can stop her from pursuing her education. Next year, Sarah has been accepted to the full time dietary science program at Ryerson University where she hopes to become a dietician and provide dietary consultation for oncology patients.
Quote: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”