Rusty Ensign and Jeremiah Hyslop have been selected as the two community medal bearers for the District of West Kelowna in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay on May 2, 2012.
Ensign has been an active community volunteer for many years.
In 1983, he broke his neck and became a C6/7 incomplete quadriplegic. During his time in hospital, he met Rick Hansen.
“I met him when I was at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in 1983; he came and did an inspirational speech (for) us,” said Ensign.
In 1987, when Rick Hansen came through town, he inspired Ensign and others to create the Kelowna and District Society for People in Motion. The society’s mandate was to address the needs of the physically disabled.
“I was on the board for six years and president for three. The society is still doing well and it’s gone on to help several disabled people in the area over the past 25 years.”
The Ensign Cup benefit rugby game has donated to the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Tour as well as to the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), which focuses on spinal cord research.
“You can’t live without a dream. I’ve never stopped believing that we’ll find a cure. When I got hurt 28 years ago, they said they’ll never find a cure; now I think it’s right on the cusp.”
Ensign said he is looking forward to being a medal bearer at the relay. He also noted that he is thankful to those who have helped him along the way.
“Thanks to family and friends I have been able to do a lot with my life and contribute back to the community—I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.
“Just because you’re disabled, it doesn’t mean you can’t be an active participant in society and contribute.”
Hyslop has been a member of the Glenrosa Middle School social justice program for three years.
Through his work with the social justice program, he has helped organize food and clothing drives for the food shelter, fundraisers to support the International Justice Mission and fundraisers to support Glenrosa Middle School’s sister school in Zambia.
He is also one of the key Where Everybody Belongs program leadership students that organize all of Glenrosa Middle School’s student recognition and spirit events.
The district staff worked with an informal committee comprised of local service organizations and schools to name the two individuals who they felt were appropriate choices to be medal bearers.