Thank you for this great honour. I’d first like to thank the Generosity of Spirit Committee for selecting us to receive this recognition. I know there are many deserving groups that do incredible work, so this really is very special to us. I’d also like to thank Calgary Health Trust for nominating us, and who work very closely with us to ensure we make investments into burn care that are really going to make a difference in the community.
I have the great privilege of being the President of an organization made up of some incredible individuals. Receiving this award, I only represent one of the 20 Directors and countless other volunteers that give their time to the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society.
I am also honoured to represent the tremendous donors in the community whose generosity helps us provide crucial funding to support initiatives like the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Centre, the Alberta Firefighter’s Burn Camp, our very own Burn Survivor Program, our Research Chair Position focused on skin regeneration, and to ensure a gold standard of care for the countless families that are impacted by burn injuries or skin disease each and every year. This amazing community’s support has been unwavering, even despite these difficult times.
I was asked to touch on why we do what we do, and I think that is a hard thing to articulate, because I know most of my colleagues would say it is just the right thing to do, and it is part of who we are. Being Firefighters we choose this profession because we want to be in service to the community, because we want to help people. And we are honoured to do so.
One of the most tangible things for me is the time that I have spent at burn camp. For a couple days I get to be a spectator on the journey the kids take. These are kids who have been robbed of the innocence of being a kid. Fitting in, finding themselves. They have experienced something that forever changed them, and they haven’t yet realized it’s power.
I’ve witnessed the kids arriving at camp with sleeves pulled down, hoods pulled up, less sure of their value and carrying the weight of how they perceive the world has been viewing them.
Throughout the week, I’ve had the pleasure of watching them transition as they experience the non-judgemental environment of burn camp, experiencing a supportive community which doesn’t identify them as having restrictions or being fragile.
At the end of the week, I see these kids refreshed, free-spirited, and confident. They are reminded of who they are underneath their injuries and are starting to build the confidence they need to reach their potential. And sometime, during the week at Camp, they realize that they are strong. That they have overcome this massive obstacle.
They will never forget their injury, nor will it let them, at least for now. But they see the power they possess, and when they leave Camp, they carry that confidence with them.
Burn camp changes you forever. And it changes the kids, too. They are not victims of their injuries. They are survivors.
These are the reasons why we do this work, and I hope that I have done justice to the inspiration these people provide to us each and every day.
Thank you again for this great honour.