Connected to SCIO are people of integrity who embody the spirit of community as they bring our mission to life. We are proud and honoured to introduce our 2018-19 award recipients.

John Shepherd

Patti Dawson Activist of the Year – John Shepherd

John Shepherd is a force for change. With a BA and MBA from Harvard University, John has never stopped learning or taking action. As a strategic management consultant, he created an innovative e-learning program for patient education in SCI; he served on the boards of SCIO and UHN’s Toronto Rehab and on the Rick Hansen Institute’s Care Committee; he’s a founding member of the Ontario SCI Alliance; and is completing a PhD in rehabilitation science at U of T.

This year, John supported the development of our advocacy program, participating in major campaigns including access to medical supplies, access to mobility devices, and improving access to primary care in Ontario. You’ll recognize John as a subject in our #peeforfree video, launched at recent Queen’s Park event.

Through John’s commitment to our work, we have much to celebrate in knowledge translation and dissemination, policy change and practice improvements for the betterment of people with spinal cord injuries in Ontario and Canada.


Employer of the Year – City of Toronto Election Services

What started as an inquiry in October 2014 from the SCIO Employment Services team to the City of Toronto Election Service team has resulted in a mutually beneficial relationship that has flourished over the years. Thirteen candidates placed in 2014 has grown to twenty candidates placed during the October 2018 election. Along with Information Officers and Tabulations Officers, some of the positions also include Disability Trainers and Attendance and Information Clerks for staff training.

As well as providing opportunities for job seekers, we have observed a growing desire by the City of Toronto Election Services to improve the accessibility for voters and candidates with disabilities and feel proud that we have had a small part in helping to support and encourage this. Our staff and our job seekers have been listened to when giving feedback and practical accessibility improvement suggestions over the years. We have seen these suggestions actioned which results in making voting more accessible for all Torontonians.

Working for the Election Services team has enabled many of our job seekers to gain valuable work experience and develop skills that are valued in today’s workplace. For some people it was their first work experience. After working for the Election Services team many of our job seekers have gained the confidence to take the next step in their employment goals.

We are proud and pleased to name City of Toronto Election Services as our Employer of the Year.

Homan Hogan Organizing Committee
From left to right: Rick McGrath, Jeff Murphy, Ann McGahey, Greg Purcell, Paul Vaillancourt, Dan Andress and Wanita Andress | Absent: Louise McInnis

Vigmond Philanthropy Award – Homan Hogan Charity Bonspiel

Marshall Hogan, a former client of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, was looking for a way to give back and help others following his recovery. Dan Andress, Marshall’s brother-in-law, proposed a charity bonspiel and soon Dan had Mark Homan, former provincial junior men’s and provincial mixed champion on board.

Next, was the crucial element of the organizing committee. Who would give their time,  energy and heart to the event? For five years and counting, Wanita Andress, Dan Andress, Ann McGahey, Rick McGrath, Louise McInnis, Jeff Murphy, Greg Purcell and Paul Vaillancourt have done just that. Their commitment and efforts have raised over $42,000 and critical awareness about access. In fact, the good people of the Smith’s Falls Curling and Squash Club undertook to make their facility accessible for the event.

Our thanks and recognition to the organizing committee of the Homan Hogan Charity Bonspiel for turning their time, energy and affection for friends, family and community into meaningful change for people living with spinal cord injury.

Theresa Power

Darrell Murphy Award – Theresa Power

Theresa has been a part of the Attendant Services Team for 26+ years and is the epitome of commitment and dedication. Darrel Murphy was a mentor to Theresa and someone she admired greatly.

Theresa is approachable and professional when supporting clients. She is a true supporter of the Independent Living Philosophy and the rights for persons with disabilities to choose their path and live the life they choose.

Theresa was recognized by a client with the following comment; “This attendant applies both the splint for my hand and the compression garment for my leg so that it’s both comfortable and does its job. She is a great listener, respectful, follows direction, demonstrates strong work ethics, follows policy and practices and is not anxious to be on her way to the next client.”

It is our continued pleasure to have such a committed and dedicated Attendant as a part of our team here at SCIO, and we are proud to name Theresa our 2018-19 Attendant of the Year.

Community Awards


Kevin McKenzie
Volunteer of the Year

Michael Thompson
Family Volunteer of the Year

Dennis Burke
Peer Support Volunteer of the Year

Sheena Gow
Health Care Professional of the year


Rachel Holthof
Volunteer of the Year

Tamara Van Grunsve
Family Volunteer of the Year

David Baldwin
Peer Support Volunteer of the Year

Dr. Sussan Askari
Health Care Professional of the year

Bergeron Clifford LLP
Award of Appreciation


Julie Hayes
Peer Support Family Volunteer of the Year

John Anacleto
Peer Support Volunteer of the Year

Gloria Kwan
Health Care Professional of the year


Michelle Read
Health Care Professional of the Year

Alex McKinnon
Peer Support Volunteer of the Year

Christine Martz
Family Volunteer of the Year

Long Term Staff Recognition

20 years

Delia Barroga, Janet Deonarayan, Yvonne Williamson

25 years

Cora Vigilia

35 years

Heather Hollingshead