Muscular Dystrophy Canada is a volunteer-driven organization. We rely on dedicated, enthusiastic, diverse and dynamic people to help us meet our mission – from clients to family members, community supporters to like-minded organizations, and healthcare professionals to Fire Fighters and beyond.
All of our volunteers are key partners in the delivery of MDC’s support programs, services, fundraising efforts, and governance. We want to thank ALL of our wonderful volunteers for everything they do, and for believing in our mission.
For National Volunteer Week (April 19–25), we highlighted a few of our extraordinary volunteers. Read their profiles below:
Alexander Peeler is from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and is a documentary filmmaker and an advocate for people with disabilities. Fifteen years ago, Alexander started volunteering with MDC because as a person living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he saw an opportunity to give back to the neuromuscular community and to show his appreciation for their continued love and support.
Alexander’s favourite volunteer experience with MDC was mentoring the youth at the Family Retreat. He enjoyed getting to know everyone and sharing his knowledge with them. Throughout the years, Alexander has learned that neuromuscular disorders impact people from all walks of life, and that everyone who lives with these disorders face similar challenges—no matter who they are or where they’re from.
“I love volunteering for MDC because I get to meet amazing people and enjoy unique experiences while making a difference in the lives of people impacted by neuromuscular disorders, says Alexander. “The staff and volunteers at MDC are like my extended family.”
Nancy Paschal has been a long-time MDC volunteer since the 1980’s, when her nephew, Jeffrey, was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder. She has been involved in the Fundy Chapter since it began, and was both a Chapter member and served with the executive team prior to becoming the Walk lead in 2008.
Nancy’s most memorable moment from volunteering with MDC is getting to know the youth and their challenges. “It always amazes me how resilient they are,” she says. Nancy says she is proud to be a part of an organization that gives back so much to their clients. Her favourite part about volunteering with MDC is getting to make a difference in the neuromuscular community.
At the age of 10, Jalee Pelissier was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease. Since then, Jalee has faced challenges like surgeries and constant pain, but at the same time, her disease has opened her up to some incredible opportunities. She has gained confidence and passion to help be the voice for those, like her, who face the challenges that come with living with a disability.
Jalee started volunteering with MDC when she decided that she wanted to make a difference for others impacted by neuromuscular disorders as well. She loves organizing fundraisers, networking with the community, and raising awareness.
“I have met so many amazing people by working with the MDC family,” says Jalee. “Last year I met someone at the North Bay Walk who is now a close friend of mine. We are close in age and have kept in contact ever since. We pick each other up when we are down and we celebrate our successes together.”
To Jalee, working with MDC means social networking, understanding, building friendships and relationships, and supporting the neuromuscular community in every way possible.
Dr. Phillip Gardiner
Dr. Phillip Gardiner is an emeritus professor of kinesiology and physiology at the University of Manitoba, and holds positions of Canada’s Research Chair in Physical Activity and Health Studies, and Director of the Spinal Cord Research Center. Dr. Gardiner has been an MDC volunteer since 2015 as a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MSAC), and in 2017, agreed to Chair the Committee.
Dr. Gardiner has learned a lot while working with MDC. He enjoys getting to know his fellow members of MSAC, who like him, are all dedicated advocates for research. “I have been astounded with the MSAC members who dedicate their time by contributing their expertise to things like reviewing potential seed grants, and discussing scientific issues impacting the neuromuscular community—a lot of this stuff is complicated, but every member is dedicated,” he says.
When asked what MDC meant to him, Dr. Gardiner replied with just three powerful words: “Hope. Care. Awareness.”
Fourteen years ago, the day after Kelly Hyde’s niece, Connie, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, Kelly reached out to her local Chapter in Calgary and immediately got involved with MDC. She was so inspired by the other volunteers at the Calgary Chapter, that she knew she had to make a difference for those impacted by neuromuscular disorders.
The one thing that Kelly has learned while volunteering with MDC has been how powerful and resilient people are. She loves to meet families from the neuromuscular community and hear their stories. “I love volunteering with MDC as the people who work there help support people, make connections, and bring people together to champion a common cause,” says Kelly. “Many of our other family members have volunteered countless hours and raised thousands of dollars for MDC over the years as well. It’s nice to help our loved one, Connie, but it means even more when we know we’re making a difference for others, beyond our own family.”
Kelly believes in giving back. She believes that through volunteering, we can learn from, and be inspired by the connection we have with others. “It’s so easy to turn inward and focus on ourselves and the hardships that life sometimes brings. However, when we focus on others, it shifts our perspective. Not only do we end up supporting others, but it also transforms our own experience of life.”