Meet our Difference Makers

Difference Makers are people just like you - everyday Canadians doing amazing things. This page will tell you more about just some of the wonderful Difference Makers out there. We hope they will inspire and motivate you.

And if you've done something to make a difference, or know someone who has - tell us at We would love to hear your story.


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Shauna Stanyer and Susan Sousa

“I sow a lot of seeds as a teacher that I know one day will flourish in my students’ lives. Susan and I hope to see these seeds of growth cultivated in our kids so that they are later able to harvest them.” - Shauna Stanyer, teacher at Holy Cross Secondary School, Surrey, BC; she and her teaching partner, Susan Sousa, are 2017 RHFSP Difference Makers of the Year (educators)

Shauna Stanyer and her teaching partner, Susan Sousa, believe most students are eager to receive opportunities to bring about awareness and change for people with disabilities, and enhance the quality of life for all people.

“Most kids are really nice, empathetic, compassionate young people and sometimes they just need that little push to become more aware and insightful,” says Susan.
Read Averill's story


Alex Otis

"Even if someone has a disability like me, they are actually able to do anything".
Read Alex's story


Hannah Taylor

Five year old Hannah Taylor set out to make life better for homeless people in her community.
Read Hannah's story


Ahmed Abdullah

"I believe we should all stand up and speak up when we see someone getting hurt."
Read Ahmed's story

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Sam Tilden

"I show that it is possible to have an amazing life. Even if I can't walk."
Read Sam Tilden's story

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Shannen Head

Shannen wants to be a teacher and has made a difference by teaching in Canada and Dominica.
Read Shannen's story

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Nicole Panipakoocho

Nicole volunteers with the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line, a source of support and inspiration.
Read Nicole's story

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Emerald Yun

"I felt good because I was helping other people"
Read Emerald's story

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Emily Tate

Emily spent a day in a wheelchair to help people learn about accessibility.
Read Emily's story

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Jessica Rideout

"I really enjoy connecting with other visually impaired students and helping out in any way I can."
Read Jessica's story

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Dylan Spetz and Eric Hattum

Two boys who have changed people's perceptions of autism and each other's lives.
Read Dylan Spetz and Eric Hattum's stor

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Tyler Sparkes

"Rick reminds us to turn the obstacles we face into something good"
Read Tyler's stor

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Gareth Rice

Like Rick, Gareth, who has cerebral palsy, overcomes obstacles with a positive attitude
Read Gareth's story

Carolyn Chandler

Carolyn Chandler

Carolyn, a student from PEI, used music to take a stand against bullying.
Read Carolyn Chandler's story

Sierra Roth

Sierra Roth

Sierra inspired her class at school to raise funds for the Rick Hansen Foundation through a Significant Objects Experiment.
Read Sierra Roth's story

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Jill Martens

Jill Martens, an inspirational young woman from Boissevain, Manitoba, is the proud recipient of the Atsede Hobbs "Living out Loud" Rick Hansen Difference Maker Scholarship for 2014.

Read Jill Martens's story

Rachel Beaudette

Rachel Beaudette

Rachel is involved in many charitable activities from food collections to relays.
Read Rachel Beaudette's story

Manraj Sidhu

Manraj Sidhu

Diagnosed with cancer in grade 11, Manraj now volunteers to support young people with cancer
Lisez son récit

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Katie Elsey

Katie is in Grade 5 and already a dedicated fundraiser, participating in the MS Walk and zumbathons.
Read Katie Elsey's story

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Maura Del Medico

In 2015, the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program named Maura Del Medico of Ontario as our Difference Maker of the Year for her efforts to enhance the social environment of her school and help her fellow students.
Read Maura's story

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Luke Harris

With his new initiative Run 4 the Health of It, Luke is an athlete turned advocate – he’s encouraging high schools across BC to include students with special needs in both Cross Country and Track & Field teams.
Read Luke's story

Image of Luke Harris and Ges Bushe

Hayden Kalelest

In 2016, the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program named Hayden Kalelest of Williams Lake, BC as our Difference Maker of the Year for his perseverance, courage and leadership.

Read Hayden’s story

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Carolyn West

Carolyn West, a resource teacher at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba, believes it’s educators’ responsibility to mold their school into a community where all students can experience life to the fullest.
Read Carolyn's story

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Eleanor Norman

Eleanor Norman remembers how proud she and her family were to root for Rick Hansen during his Man In Motion World Tour over 30 years ago. An Occasional Teacher at Chapman Mills Public School, Eleanor is connecting with this Canadian hero in a different way.
Read Eleanor's story

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Averill Huxter

Averill Huxter is an elementary and high school teacher in Escuminac, in rural Quebec. “I want my students to recognize that everyone has value, everyone has something to contribute. That differences make us better – they don’t take away from people,” says Averill.
Read Eleanor's story

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Janet Dunec

The main focus at educator Janet Dunec’s school, with grades from kindergarten to grade 8, was community building. When the school’s special education resource teacher suggested trying RHFSP’s Difference Makers, Janet was quick to register.
Read Carolyn's story