2016 Peter Soumalias Unsung Hero Honour
Canada’s Walk of Fame has announced that John Cairns of Trenton, Ontario is the Recipient of this year’s Peter Soumalias Unsung Hero Honour. Chosen by the Canada’s Walk of Fame Board of Directors, John attended the 2016 Canada’s Walk of Fame Celebration Event on Thursday, October 6, where he was recognized for his positive outlook and for inspiring those around him to never give up. In addition, he received a $5,000 honorarium and a commemorative gift.
On November 30, 1992, John’s life took a transformational shift – he left behind the life he’d known for 26 years, becoming a double amputee. On that day, John lost his right arm and leg in a work related accident with a 68-ton railcar. Over an extensive period of rehabilitation, and the often-burning urge to give up, John began to realize that he had the power to change his outlook and turn impossibilities to possibilities, despair to hope, disabilities to abilities. He harnessed that acute desire, and focused on the power of the human spirit to become living proof of what is possible despite the circumstances. He leads by example and inspires everyone he encounters to do the same. This past August, John climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, living true to his motto of, “I can. I will.”
“After reading his nomination and during a phone conversation with John, I knew that I was talking to the Recipient of our 2016 Peter Soumalias Unsung Hero Honour,” said Melanie Hurley, CEO Canada’s Walk of Fame. “John has a special gift of igniting a positive outlook and inspiring others to believe that anything is possible. We are proud to be honouring him this year.”
“John feels that his whole purpose in life is to help and inspire others and he has done exactly that for our whole community,” said John’s nominator and fellow Trenton resident, Carol Ann Fellows. “He never gives up and he gives unselfishly of himself to all others. There isn’t a time where you don’t see John or spend time with him where he hasn’t made you feel like you have a purpose and a new reason.”
John is the President and Founder of Wheelchair of Hope Foundation, a registered non-profit organization that delivers wheelchairs to individuals in the community who otherwise do not have the means to acquire one for themselves. In addition, he has served on many important committees in his community including the Children’s Aid Society, Rotary Club, Hospital Foundation, Voice of Victory and the Accessibility Committee for the community.
The Peter Soumalias Unsung Hero Honour was created in honour of Canada’s Walk of Fame Founding Director, Peter Soumalias, to pay tribute to his dedication and contribution to the recognition of Canadian excellence. This Honour is given annually to recognize a special Canadian whose outstanding work within the arts, culture or sports impacts their community and inspires the next generation.
The Peter Soumalias Unsung Hero Honour is part of a series of national programs and events that include the Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Program supported by RBC, Allan Slaight Honour and Canada’s Walk of Fame Celebration Event featuring the Red Carpet Star Unveiling, Pre-show Reception, Canada’s Walk of Fame Broadcast Gala (dinner presented by Scotia Wealth Management) and Post-show Reception, which will air nationally on Global on Sunday, December 18 at 8pm ET/PT.
Funding for the Peter Soumalias Unsung Hero Honour has been generously provided in part by Gary Slaight, with additional support from Randy Lennox, Gord Love, Dan McGrath, Walter Schneider, Bruce Rothney, Lewis Rusen and Jack Tomik.