National Volunteer Awards

At the MS Society, people drive our innovative and ground-breaking work in service to people living with and affected by MS. We cannot achieve our mission without partnership with volunteers across the country. The leadership that our volunteers provide, the important perspectives that each brings, is helping us achieve a greater impact in our community.

The MS Society of Canada’s National Volunteer Awards recognize impact, innovation and excellence. They provide the MS Society of Canada with an opportunity to shine a spotlight on those that are making significant strides towards a world free of MS. The awards are the highest honour that we can present to an individual or group.

Please join us in celebrating the 2018 National Volunteer Award recipients (please click below to read their full story):

MS Champion: Theresa Denham
MS Caregiver: Garry Chmara
Leadership in Advocacy and Awareness: Brian Duck
Leadership in Fundraising: Jack MacDuff
Leadership in Community Engagement: Community Facing Task Force
Leadership in Programs and Services: Lakeland Primary Care Network

For more information, please contact:

MS Champion

The MS Society of Canada’s MS Champion Award recognizes an MS Society of Canada leadership volunteer with MS who inspires others and has helped to significantly further the work of the MS Society across the country.

2018 recipient: Theresa Denham


Theresa has worked hard to ensure that the voices of people living with MS are heard and the effects of living with MS are understood. Having volunteered for over 20 years, Theresa has held a multitude of roles, ranging from support group facilitation, building connections at volunteer and health fairs, sharing her experiences at community events, mentoring other volunteers, participating in research initiatives and being an ambassador at MS Society events. It is because of volunteers like Theresa that we are able to expand our reach to engage more people in the work of the organization and ensure more people affected by and living with MS are supported.

MS Caregiver

The MS Society of Canada’s MS Caregiver Award was created to recognize a leadership volunteer who has helped to significantly further the work of the MS Society across the country while providing exceptional support to an individual with MS.

2018 recipient: Garry Chmara

Garry has been a caregiver to his wife, Beth, for the past 40 years. His unwavering commitment to ensuring that Beth is supported and living her best possible life is a true testament to his character. He is an advocate for Beth, ensuring that she receives the best care has paved the way for other struggling to receive appropriate care – for those with MS and other conditions. Garry is a tremendous resource and wealth of knowledge, who has somehow found the time to counsel other individuals who are facing adversity – most recently by volunteering with the MS Society’s Caregiver Peer Support Program. Garry’s attendance in multiple MS Society Caregiver Retreats represents yet another forum where he has routinely provided support to other caregivers. Garry continues to inspire, support and connect the MS community and the MS Society is very fortunate to have Garry as a volunteer.

Leadership in Advocacy and Awareness

The MS Society of Canada’s Leadership in Advocacy & Awareness Award recognizes an MS Society leadership volunteer who has who has significantly increased the public awareness reach of the MS Society of Canada and advanced government relations and advocacy in the interest people impacted by MS.

2018 recipient: Brian Duck


Brian has been integral in helping to shape and develop MS Society policy positions and in determining relevant advocacy issues for people with MS. Brian’s connections and relationships have been integral in creating access and opportunities – he has long advocated for improvements to Disability Tax Credit and EI sick leave – an issue the MS Society of Canada is seeing movement on today. Brian continually goes above and beyond to ensure the effects of living with MS are understood. He has sought out opportunities to collaborate with other groups and organizations with common interests in order to achieve a greater impact. It’s because of volunteers like Brian that the MS Society is making significant strides towards long-term, systemic change for individual living with and impacted by MS.

Leadership in Fundraising

The MS Society of Canada’s Leadership in Fundraising Award was created to recognize a leadership volunteer who has made a significant impact leading a transformational change to a fundraising activity, raising awareness of MS and mobilizing others to support the fundraising initiative.

2018 recipient: Jack MacDuff


Jack MacDuff has contributed to the enhancement and influence of persons living with MS while also raising significant funds for the MS Society and creating greater public awareness of the importance of active involvement of persons with MS. Jack is a top fundraiser for the MS Walk and MS Bike – not only exceeding his fundraising goals each yet but also supporting others to maximize their fundraising potential. Beyond the funds raised for MS Walk and MS Bike, and the innovation brought to each initiative to deepen community connections, the positive perspective that Jack continues to share on living well with MS is inspiring. Jack brings a positive outlook and a “can-do” attitude. His willingness to do whatever it takes to continue to build a future free of MS, and raise awareness of MS, had led to immeasurable impacts.

Leadership in Community Engagement

The MS Society of Canada’s Leadership in Community Engagement Award recognizes an MS Society of Canada leadership volunteer or committee who has exhibited exemplary leadership and made a significant contribution to the MS Society in furthering its mission.

2018 recipient: Community Facing Task Force


Gaylene Bonenfant
John Duffy
Chris Huestis
Margaret Jurcic
Kent Kirkpatrick
Erin Kuan
Murray Lukawitz
Ian McCann
Lisa McCoy
Rahul Ray
Patrycia Rzechowka
Rebecca Scott Rawn
Michael Weinstein
Kim Wilson

Forming in 2016, and representing staff and volunteers from across the country, the Community Facing Task Force (CFTF) was mandated to provide perspective and critical thinking to changes in division and chapter roles and responsibilities to ensure they are increasingly focused on community roles. The strength of the work of the CFTF was a result of extensive consultation done nation-wide with volunteers and staff. This stakeholder input led by the CFTF was essential in shaping the final approved version of the Community Engagement Model for Leadership Volunteers. The CFTF reaffirmed through consultation and analysis that self-organized leadership volunteers are key to the MS Society, and connect the organization to our communities, drawing in their circles of influence as they advocate for the MS cause. The CFTF spent countless hours creating a model that strives to structure the organization for the future, anticipating the changing nature of volunteerism and philanthropy in our society and ensuring that we have strong connections to our grassroots. The impact of the work of the CFTF continues to be felt across the country as the model is brought to life and this wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of commitment of this committee.

Leadership in Programs and Services

The MS Society of Canada’s Leadership in Programs and Services Award was created to recognize a leadership volunteer or committee who has made a significant impact on programs and services for individuals affected by multiple sclerosis. The leadership will had led to transformational change and has made a significant impact on the MS community through innovation in programs and services.

2018 recipient: Lakeland Primary Care Network

The Lakeland Primary Care Network (PCN) became involved with the Lakeland MS Society in 2013 – the evolution of that relationship, the impact that PCN has made on the MS Society and those it serves since that time has been remarkable. The programs offered range from nearly diagnosed packages, MS mobile clinic, MS Group Medical Visit (now known as MS Speaker series) have ensured that people living in rural areas are connected and supported. The partnerships, innovation towards existing programs and development of new programs has created effective awareness of MS within the community and ensured that the future is brighter for people living with MS.