2017 Spirit Award Recipients, Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage

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Recipient Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage: Samuel Hickey, Notre Dame High School

His school community, friends, and family have described Samuel, or Sam, as a role model and inspiration. At the age of ten, after what was thought to be a simply basketball injury, a benign tumour was discovered in Sam’s leg and removed. Shortly after the start of high school, Sam was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, but he was determined to remain positive. After beginning chemotherapy, Sam was moved to emergency health foster care. To control the spread of the cancer, Sam had his leg amputated. The amputation, however, was too high on his leg for a prosthesis. He was offered special transportation to school once he was able to return, but quickly decided that he preferred to ride city transit with his peers. Sam has also made a name for himself through his involvement with school groups, and as an actor in school productions. He has also used his story to educate students at his elementary school about the Terry Fox run.

Despite all his hardship, Sam kept a positive attitude and could also be seen smiling and laughing in the school hallways. He has been accepted at Carleton University to pursue a career in Social Work.

Quote: “Being able to talk to someone helped me to stay on the right path.”

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Recipient Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage: Tysen Lefebvre, Sacred Heart High School

Tysen was born with a genetic disorder, Pfeiffer Syndrome Type 2, that prematurely fuses bones of the skull together. Since he was nine days old, he has had at least one surgery every few years. In 2012, Tysen was granted a wish through the Make A Wish Foundation of Eastern Ontario and was determined to spread the same joy he experienced to other kids. Tysen started a campaign, Mission To A Million, to raise $1 million to help grant the wishes of 100 kids so they can have fun and forget about their hardships for a while. He developed a five-year plan and asked his peers to help him raise money anyway they could. Tysen’s efforts soon caught the attention of local businesses that began to run charity events to help him raise money. Tysen also addresses groups and classrooms about the importance of paying it forward.

His “never give up” attitude and his “go big or go home” motto have helped him to bring positivity to not only his community members, but the lives of 100 kids who will have their wishes fulfilled.

Quote: “Every time I adopt a wish it feels like I’m getting another wish all over again.”