You can allow a situation to control you, or you can take control of a situation. When challenges hit us head on, we have two choices. We can sink, or we can swim! Today’s guests not only swim, they are creating a wake in their path, inspiring everyone they meet and creating ripple effects everywhere they go.
Meet the unstoppable Luke Anderson. Luke is a licensed professional engineer, a nature lover, an avid meditator, an aspiring harmonica virtuoso, and is the recipient of a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal.
After sustaining a spinal cord injury in 2002, Luke was all of a sudden introduced to a world that’s not well suited for a wheelchair user. This frustration led him to co-found the ‘StopGap Foundation,’ which raises awareness about the importance of a barrier free and inclusive society. StopGap works with different community leaders across Canada to help with the removal of barriers. Just look around and you will see their brightly painted ramps outside entrance ways that were not accessible before.
Luke spoke about his love of playing sports and growing up in a small town. It was there, while he worked at a sporting goods store, that his passion for mountain biking began. After graduating from university with an Engineering degree, Luke decided to live out his dream of riding his mountain bike out West, through trails in BC.
It was during this biking trip, after attempting to jump a 25-foot gap, where Luke left his life, as he knew it. He didn’t make the jump. His world was forever changed in that moment, as he was left with a spinal cord injury, which would impact Luke for the rest of his life.
It took a while for Luke to learn how to adapt to a life of living with a disability. In time, he knew that he wanted to put his engineering degree to work.
So, he got a great job in downtown Toronto, but it turned out that the building that he worked in was not accessible! He had to continuously rely on others to access his very own workspace on a daily basis. For 8 years there was this constant physical barrier to his independence and self-esteem. It contributed to his frustration in accessing free space, so he decided to do something about it.
With the help of volunteers, Luke began to build brightly painted ramps, to fit these inaccessible spaces. To date they have built over 2500 ramps, installed in over sixty-two communities!
Luke continues to advocate for the right to equal access and to help others overcome big barriers. He feels that there are many barriers that prevent all people from accessing what they need, but it is often the spaces that we live in that are often the most disabling.
His Sister, Logan along with her students created a story book about Luke’s life and legacy. We strongly recommend reading, ‘The Ramp Man.’ Luke says on the back cover, “Welcome change in your life and recognize it as an opportunity to experience new things.”
Our next guest was Madison Tevlin. Madison is an aspiring actress and a true ‘champion’ for people with Down syndrome. This spunky 21-year-old blows you away with her incredible charm, spirit and positive attitude. It’s no wonder Madison became a YouTube sensation at the young age of thirteen. Since then, her Shining Star has been constantly on the rise.
After Madison’s videos became viral, she didn’t look back. As an influencer with thousands of followers, Madison is an advocate for people with Down syndrome. She was an Ambassador for the Special Olympics and then she was offered the opportunity to host her own TV show on CBC; an interview series called, Who Do You Think I Am?
Now, Madison stars as a leading role in the recently released movie ‘Champions’ with Woody Harrelson. If you haven’t seen it, please check it out.
Madison spoke about her love of singing, dancing and her active social life, describing herself as ‘sassy.’ She started taking singing lessons at the age of thirteen, when she recorded the video that went viral.
She gushed about her recent Hollywood movie experience and what she learned from this incredible opportunity. Madison also recently got to host the red carpet at the Canadian Screen Show Awards, where she was nominated for best talk show host. It was there, where she got to meet Ryan Reynolds!
Her message is, that amazing things happen when we embrace inclusivity and we can certainly see how this has come to fruition for Madison herself.
In the future, Madison hopes to travel, and create her own movie. She certainly has big plans and big dreams but will always be open to learning new things. She will continue to advocate for those who don’t always have opportunities.
Today we surely had star power, but more importantly, true role models who continue to inspire.
CJ Capital is a Haitian Canadian artist who is making a name for himself across multiple entertainment mediums. As a vocal artist, he and his group CZN caught Simon Cowell’s attention winning 2020 Canada’s Got Talent. CJ and CZN went on to compete in Season 16 of America’s Got Talent. CJ is a storyteller. He tells his stories of passion, fear, love and search for freedom through his music. On screen CJ has been an actor in multiple productions including Sneakerella (Disney+), and Ginny & Georgia (Netflix), just to name a few.
CJ performed an original song that he wrote, called ‘Fade Away.’ Its message is to not give up on your dreams and follow them through. Currently, CJ is working on a play that will be part of the Fringe Festival this summer, following his own advice to make dreams happen.
Thank you to all of our special guests today.
Please share this episode with anyone who might benefit from learning from today’s powerful messages from our inspiring guests.
As always, be kind to one another, embrace one another and learn from one another.