Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador has named 13-year-old Liam Hickey of St. John’s the 2012 Easter Seals ambassador. The announcement was made during a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s Friday. This is a historic year for Easter Seals in this province as it is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Liam was born missing his right femur. He underwent several surgeries and was fitted with a prosthetic leg. An avid sledge hockey player, Liam plays with the Easter Seals team, and has participated in several national tournaments with the adult-based Avalon Sled Dogs.
A Grade 8 student at St. Peter’s Junior High in Mount Pearl, Liam also loves playing wheelchair basketball, baseball and has even tried scuba diving.
“With wheelchair basketball I’ve had tonnes of opportunities to go away with Team Canada’s junior team to participate in development camps,” Liam said during an interview following the ceremony.
Liam said he was delighted when he found out he’d been chosen as this year’s ambassador.
“I was really excited. The reward will be really good because no matter what we want, we will get it if we try hard enough,” he said of children and youth with disabilities.
During the ceremony, Liam presented Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie with a framed set of 2012 Easter Seals.
Each year throughout North America, Easter Seals organizations mail a sheet of Easter Seals to its supporters, encouraging people to use the seals on their personal mail and to make a donation to the organization.
The Easter Seals 2012 campaign theme is “We Can Too!” The theme focuses on children’s abilities rather than disabilities, said Easter Seals Canada chair Michael Duffy.
Easter Seals provides programs and services to help children and youth with physical disabilities reach their full potential, Duffy said.
“For families, Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador is a place to turn when they truly need assistance,” he said.
Duffy, who is also a past-president of Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador, said children and youth with disabilities face barriers that make it more difficult for them to reach their full potential.
“At Easter Seals, we have the privilege of watching these children discover that they can play hockey, they can ski, they can swim, they can sail, they can make music.”
Dressed in a sealskin vest, boots and bowtie, Crosbie compared Easter Seals’ children and youth to the province’s sealers who, he said, showed great courage in overcoming many obstacles.
“(Easter Seals children and youth) demonstrate a lot of courage and determination in overcoming the handicaps that they suffer from,” he said.
During the ceremony, the 2011 ambassador Danielle Arbour of the Goulds was awarded the Fraser Edison Easter Seals Ambassador Trust Scholarship in the amount of $2,000.
Edison has been supporting Easter Seals for decades.
“He had led this organization by example, with energy, imagination and unwavering commitment to excellence — all qualities that we seek in our Easter Seals ambassadors,” Duffy said.
Just before presenting Danielle with her cheque, Edison recalled taking part, as a child, in activities at the Rotary Sunshine Park and the tremendous contribution Rotary has made to Easter Seals, particularly in the organization’s early years.
Edison described Danielle as “an outgoing, active and ambitious young women who has entertained us all with her beautiful voice and has made a difference in the lives of the children at Easter Seals.”
During an interview following the ceremony, Danielle said it was an honour to serve as Easter Seals ambassador.
“When most people think ‘disabled’ they think we can’t do anything. So, it was awesome to prove that we can do everything they can do, but just in a different way,” she said.
When asked if she had any advice for Liam, Danielle looked towards the new ambassador and smiled. “You’ve got big shoes to fill, that’s all I can say.”