Philanthropy, physical activity, and the power of humanity

On May 4, 2016, the Canadian Red Cross honoured U of S alumni at the inaugural Red Cross Power of Humanity Luncheon, which recognized extraordinary humanitarian efforts.

David Dubé (BA'85) and his wife, Heather Ryan, were named the 2016 Red Cross Humanitarians of the Year for their philanthropic contributions. Mike McDonald (BScKin'10) was also recognized by the Canadian Red Cross with the Young Humanitarian of the Year award.

"It is humbling for us for sure," said Dubé of the award. "We are simply trying to do the right thing in our daily lives."

Dubé is majority owner, controlling shareholder, president and CEO of Concorde Group Corp., a diversified Saskatoon-based company. Through the foundation he and Heather established, the Heather Ryan and L. David Dubé Foundation, they provide support for a variety of initiatives, including the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, St. Paul's Hospital Foundation and the Soldier On Fund. The Foundation has contributed more than $6 million since its inception. Dubé and Ryan have also given back generously to the U of S, with several contributions to Huskies Athletics and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Dubé also sits on the university's Board of Governors.

"It is really about what causes or needs are underfunded and which ones capture your attention and passion," he says of his diverse philanthropic portfolio. "Ultimately, it is all about the people and when they inspire us around a vision, we can support them and the initiative with confidence."

Mike McDonald is the Founder/Executive Director of Saskatchewan Blue Cross Recess Guardians. Operating since 2008, the program is an initiative to encourage students to play and be physically active during recess. This involves a Recess Guardian meeting with a class or school and introducing new games and activities that all students can participate in. The Recess Guardians program is operating in more than 100 schools, and has worked with over 30,000 youth throughout the province.

"We are giving everyone the chance to be a leader and not just the so-called ‘leaders' of the school," McDonald says, describing the most satisfying part of the program. "It is incredible to see a student who may be really shy or quiet, step up and instruct a game in front of their peers for the first time."

McDonald has also been active in organizing Brainsport's Free Shoe Day the last six years. This program has donated more than 15,000 pairs of gently used shoes to people in need in Saskatchewan and worldwide.

He cites several U of S Alumni who have inspired him to become involved in the community, including Cary Primeau (BSPE'95, MBA'04), and instructors Melissa Strom (BSc'04, MBA'07) and Susan McDonald (BA'83, ARTS'91, MA'95), who is Mike's aunt.

"Red Cross is the organization that you turn to in a time when disaster strikes," McDonald said. "With the current Fort McMurray situation, they are doing wonderful things to raise money and provide relief. I am extremely grateful to have been given this honour."
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