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'An amazing legacy': The last Sally Spence bursaries make dreams come true for 16 more young people

This is the final year for the bursaries, but CTC staff wanted to 'go out with a bang'

Riding and skating lessons, summer camp, post-secondary tuition funds, assistive technology, laptops and iPads — these are some of the dreams of NEO Kids Children's Treatment Centre clients and alumni that are coming true.

Sixteen toddlers, children, youth and young people between the ages of almost two years old and 26 years old received bursaries of up to $1,000 for self-development June 11 as part of the final iteration of the Spirit of Sally Spence Awards.

The children's treatment centre (CTC), by the way, is a family-centered, community-based rehabilitation facility providing assessment, treatment, consultation and education to children and young adults with motor and communication impairments. CTC strives for the best quality of life and health for its clients by enhancing their self-esteem and facilitating their function, independence and community participation.

Spence, a physiotherapist by trade, was the clinical manager of the CTC before she passed away from ovarian cancer in 2014.

In addition to recognizing Spence’s past contributions, these awards are an opportunity to showcase and to recognize the wonderful accomplishments of some of the current and past clients.

It's the final year of the awards because the funds donated by Spence's family were dwindling, so CTC staff decided to “go out with a bang,” and give bursaries/awards to 16 individuals this year.

Spence was a “much-loved person” known for her pink lipstick and great laugh, said Joanne Tramontini, CTC clinical manager. “She is greatly missed,” she said.

Before Spence passed away, she learned of the bursary program, and was “thrilled,” said Tramontini.

“Sally always worried about what would happen when clients graduated from CTC,” she said.

“She wanted them to have wonderful lives and opportunities … For her to have helped 36 children, youth and adults is … an amazing legacy for a wonderful woman.”

The oldest recipient of this year's Sally Spence bursaries is 26-year-old Andrew Morissette, who recently moved into his own apartment at ICAN (Independence Centre and Network) in the city's west end.

Morissette spoke movingly of Spence, saying he was often “sad and mad” when he learned he needed another surgery, but “Sally made everything better.”

“She always made me smile, even when I was going through rough times,” he said.

The young man will put the funds toward the purchase of an elevation lift for his wheelchair, which will increase his independence by allowing him to reach higher levels in his apartment and in the community.

“I'm just very thankful that this award is available, because without the award, I would not be able to get this device that I need,” Morissette said. “I'm beyond grateful to everybody for this opportunity to receive this award.”

The youngest 2019 recipient is Grace Wing, who will turn two years old in August. Little Grace has Rett Syndrome, which means she will face numerous challenges in her health and development.

Her mom, Tiffany Wing, said Grace can't walk on her own, but thanks to the bursary, the family will purchase an Upsee Mobility Harness. The device allows her to be strapped to one of her parents to walk along with them.

Tiffany said the device will allow Grace to be included with her cousins when they're playing this summer. “We're really excited about it,” she said.

Spirit of Sally Spence Awards 2019 recipients:

Deacon Judd – The funds will be used for an iPad, which will assist with Deacon's communication, motor and cognitive skills.

Keallach Kelly – The funds will be be used to purchase an iPad for the three-year-old, assisting the preschooler with effectively communicating his needs and doing some of the activities he enjoys.

Grace Wing – The funds will be used to purchase an Upsee Mobility Harness for the almost two-year-old, allowing her to be strapped to one of her parents to walk along with them.

Angelo St-Georges – The funds will be used for skating lessons and the purchase of goalie equipment for the 12-year-old.

Jubilee North – The funds will be used to purchase a variety of items for the four-year-old, including a cube chair and an adventure on Manitoulin Island with her family.

Kendra McInnis – The funds will be used for an advanced, smaller communication device, writing aid and mounting pieces that will make it easier for Kendra to communicate with people at home, school and in the community.

Ailie Huneault – The funds will be used to purchase a laptop to help the 12-year-old achieve her goals and dreams.

Alexander Day – The funds will be used for an external display monitor that will assist the 16-year-old in taking computer engineering technology and communication technology courses.

Jessica Park – The funds will be used to purchase equipment to help with the 21-year-old's continued growth. 

Savannah St-Amant – The funds will be used to purchase a five-point harness foldable wagon, which will help the three-year-old, as well as her sister Ariannah, when they go on walks, outings or to appointments.

Andrew Morissette – The funds will be used for an elevation lift for the 26-year-old's wheelchair, allowing him more independence.

Brayden Wikiruk – The funds will go towards a laptop, which will assist the 13-year-old as he attends Lockerby Composite School's STEP program starting in the fall.

Cassandra Degn – The funds will go towards the 18-year-old's tuition fees in social studies at Collège Boréal in the fall.

Keana Potter – The funds will go toward a laptop to assist the 13-year-old as she enters high school in the fall.

Pierre Rouleau – The funds will go toward riding lessons to help the seven-year-old develop his fine and gross motor skills.

Jordan Foran – The funds will go toward fees to allow the 15-year-old to attend Camp Awakening, an accessible camp for kids with disabilities.