Community Spirit

Loads of people attended a free barbecue, hosted by Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod

What they brought was pretty impressive

Community spirit shone bright in west Ottawa yesterday, August 21. A huge crowd turned out for the annual barbecue hosted by Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod. Hundreds and hundreds of families and folks showed up at 3500 Fallowfield Road for gourmet burgers by The Works and fresh local corn, but what they brought was even better. Guests were encouraged to bring donations to help out the local food assistance programs in Barrhaven, Osgoode, North Gower and Manotick. They did! People brought handfuls and boxes loaded full of canned and dried goods for sharing with families in need of food support.  A container for cash donations also filled up nicely. Good thing, too. The cupboards at many Ottawa area food banks have been running low this summer.

But the show of generosity wasn’t the only beacon here. Besides the Lions Children’s Train, the face painting and other attractions, the event also put a couple of young community leaders in the spotlight. Kayla Maduk, who’s heading into Grade 11 in Barrhaven, is the junior female world champion in taekwon-do. At the ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships in New Zealand last year, she earned gold and the most medals for Canada.  Now, as a 3rd degree black belt, she’s aiming to compete at the 2013 world championships in Spain. (Kayla’s also looking to generate sponsorship support to help make the trip happen. )

MPP MacLeod’s barbecue was a warm welcome-home tribute to another local VIP, double lung transplant recipient and organ-donation advocate Hélène Campbell. Hélène has earned the support of celebrities Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as recognition from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, thanks to #BeAnOrganDonor and #GiveBlood, her influential social media campaign. In the process, she has inspired a swell in registrations for organ and blood donation.
On hand to support her, there were plenty of organ donation advocates and recipients, including Rita Richardson, Ed Carey, Laureen Bureau and Denis Richardson of the Transplant Advocate Association. These folks were encouraging everybody to be a donor. They were also celebrating life.

Laureen is a kidney recipient and Denis is spry, thanks to a heart donation. For him, it’ll be 20 years on September 8.  That’s when he received the transplant.
“It’s life saving,” says his wife, Rita, who’s president of the advocacy association. “One donor can save up to eight lives. With tissue, you can improve the lives of up to 70 people.”
Like Denis, Laureen is appreciative of the donation that extended her life and the potential for such generosity to make a difference. “It’s awesome,” she says. “Really awesome.”
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