The 2023 Dr. Bonnie Cameron Post-Secondary Scholarship Application is now available!
Please visit https://runanthropic.org/scholarship/ to view and complete the online application form.
Help us keep giving out scholarships! To make a tax deductible donation, CLICK HERE!
We would like to congratulate our 2022 winner – Andrew Poirier.
In Andrew’s own words:
Almost seven years ago, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Enthesitis-Related Arthritis. Although I was relieved to know it could be managed, the usual medications and treatment did not initially help me. I often used a cane or crutches and learned how to use a wheelchair when the arthritis became crippling. The significant pain was overwhelming, and I learned mindfulness techniques to complete schoolwork and eventually go to work in pain. Sports became more difficult and painful, and I eventually had to give up playing football as a Junior Ti-Cat. Having an invisible illness means that there are times when people think I am lazy or unmotivated. I spent so much time at the hospital, and there were days when I felt hopeless. I was continually supported by my awesome nurse Debbie and the rheumatology team at McMaster Children’s Hospital, who were dedicated to improving my quality of life. This team never gave up on me.
Nevertheless, with these challenges came exciting achievements, and a new way of competing as a Para-athlete in swimming brought back the fun of competition and fitness. Soon I was able to return to football and played during my high school years. My biggest fitness challenge came when I decided to complete my National Lifeguard award. It was one of the hardest and most physically challenging things I have done while living with arthritis, but I did it! I enjoy playing basketball and have been able to start running 5 km at a time in the last year. I think one of my proudest moments was being awarded MVP on my high school swim team.
Living with arthritis means modifying or changing how I do things, but it does not change who I am. I can live life to my personal best because of the support teachers, coaches, and medical staff have given me. If it were not for my JIA, I might never have aspired to become a nurse, hoping to help kids who receive a scary diagnosis. My university acceptance to a BScN program is something I was not sure I could achieve after missing so much school. Living with arthritis has shown me how to grow in my resiliency and that nothing is impossible.
I live well with arthritis by maintaining mental wellness and being active. Support for those who need a helping hand, as I did, led me to help those with mental illness. I watched a tv show discussing Canadian Veterans with PTSD who could not afford a therapy dog. I decided to make and sell birdhouses to support our ecosystem and provide funds for therapy dogs for Canadian Veterans. So far, over $11,000 has been raised. Focusing on helping keeps me going through the building process even when I am in pain from my juvenile arthritis. To know that I am helping a Veteran with a mental illness heal and get the services they need through a therapy dog makes me feel like I am reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and making a long-term impact on my community.
My experiences making meals at the Good Shepherd Men’s shelter continue to reinforce how we should treat others with dignity and not be judgemental. Many of these clients have a mental illness, which sometimes leads them to be homeless. I feel like I am lifting one burden from them when I help provide meals. During the pandemic, the number of clients increased because people could not afford their rent or food. To hear the men say “thank you” made me feel very humble. The men probably did not know that my trips to the Good Shepherd during the early pandemic were one of the few times I was out of my home as an immune-suppressed person. They did not know it, but they were helping me too.
In my volunteer position with the Haldimand County Accessibility Advisory Committee, I have used my passion for supporting people with disabilities to create change within our community. The county is interested in my feedback, and when modifications to buildings are drafted, I always provide my viewpoint from a person who may need to use mobility aids. I know I am helping make our community inclusive, which is important to me as I overcome some physical restrictions of my arthritis.
I have realized that being brave is about fighting my illness with compassion and courage and being brave enough to speak up when I see another person hurting and supporting them, either with initiatives that support their wellness or through activism and education of others. Thank you for recognizing the bravery and determination of those living with juvenile arthritis.
Click here to review the 2023 application requirements. The Dr. Bonnie Cameron Post-Secondary Scholarship – 2023
Purpose and Award
The Dr. Bonnie Cameron Post-Secondary Scholarship program has been assisting students living with arthritis in achieving their educational goals since 2013. It is presented by Runanthropic.org in honour of the inspiring work and dedication of Dr. Cameron and the entire Rheumatology staff at SickKids Hospital. The scholarship award is $2,500.