Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Newmarket Torchbearer A Worthy Choice

Congratulations Dan Philion, 2015 Newmarket Torch Bearer
Newmarket resident, Dan Philion, has been chosen The Torchbearer for Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, for the Pan Am Games! Well, not exactly, but he is one of three chosen for the town of Newmarket for his years of contributions to the community.

Before arriving in Newmarket 10 years ago now, as a single dad with two kids, Dan, now 50, had already made a mark in Ottawa setting records for fundraising efforts for muscular dystrophy and was an annual telethon fixture.

Dan works on getting vendor for Int Day to Eradicate Poverty
In Newmarket he picked up where he left off, this time involving himself in the community through volunteer endeavours, from organizing and running tables and events in at-risk communities - including annual BBQ's and 10 years with the annual Friendly Neighbourhood Road Hockey Challenge which has provided 100's of kids free recreation and food and awarded $10,000 in scholarship / award money to youths over that span via the Mike Thornhill Memorial Award, started in memory of a youth from his Mulock Village neighbourhood who was killed outside a Newmarket Tim Horton's donut shop - to sorting damaged packaged food items for distribution to those in need for P.A.C.C., the Poverty Action for Change Coalition. He also participated in York Region's social audit, Behind The Masks, which took over 6 months to organize, hold, and create a report from, for the Region of York and the Ontario Governments to use to reduce the affects of poverty.

Dan, MPP, and fellow torch bearers. Dan's route is on Bayview.
No, he and these causes have not had much attention or coverage over the past 10 years or so, but that does not take away from the direct impact he had in this area and to be recognized as such is long overdue and a great choice by MPP Chris Ballard.

Newly elected Newmarket Aurora MPP Ballard first met Dan, also the volunteer Vice Chair for PACC Poverty Action for Change Coalition, along with Chair Tom Pearson, late last year when the two attended a meet and greet with the MPP.

Philion returns from MPP visit in 2014
The MPP, noticing incidentally that Mr. Philion might need help to access special shoes, later contacted PACC to see if he might be interested in their help to attain some via the system but with their help. Mr Philion was receptive, particularly since paperwork can be especially tough for him and a "kinship" was struck. Although he's not receiving any 'special' treatment in getting these shoes to speed up the process, he looks forward to hopefully having them in place for The Pan Am Games Torchbearing ceremony.

Mr. Philion was surprised and honoured when asked to be a torchbearer, but his first concern was how would he hold it up as Mr. Philion has Muscular Dystrophy, a form of which his muscles degenerate a bit more and more each year. Now he is sometimes unable to drink from a heavy cup.

OLG reaassured Mr. Philion that indeed they had a special attachment to make wheelchair users able to and after more communications about how he needs assistance dressing and therefore would need his torchbearer atire in advance unlike the directives he received which they accomodated...so...he's good to go!

Make no mistake, Dan Philion is no throw-in because he's in a wheelchair, and indeed has earned his worthy choice as a Newmarket Torchbearer for the Pan Am Games.In fact, you could say he's a shoe-in.

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