2013 OTLA Safety Leadership Award Recipients
Play It Cool, Canadian Spinal Research Organization
Nominated by Trevor Golem of Falconeri Munro Tucci LLP
The Play It Cool program is an injury prevention program started by the Canadian Spinal Research Organization aimed at reducing brain and spinal injuries in minor hockey. The program is based on four years of research from Lakehead University and has support from ThinkFirst and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. The program reaches out to youth, parents and coaches involved in minor hockey through online education and in-person presentations to hockey schools and minor hockey associations. Youth are taught skill development and respect for their peers, and parents are taught the basics of injury and what to do if one occurs. Coaches are provided with resources and ideas to develop skill development exercises. Since the beginning, Play It Cool has been generously supported by various partners. The National Hockey League Players Association and a variety of players—most notably Keith Primeau and Jarome Iginla—have lent their names and expertise. Retailers like Source for Sports train their employees in proper helmet fitting, and help promote the program in their stores. Other OTLA members have been inspired to get involved in the success of the program. Michael Henry at Howie Sacks & Henry LLP founded the annual Personal Injury Bar Charity Hockey Challenge, which has raised more than $200,000 since 2006 for the Canadian Spinal Research Organization for the development and promotion of the Play It Cool program. Congratulations for all the work you do to reduce injuries in minor hockey, promote safety, raise awareness of concussion and spinal injuries, and motivate others to get involved.
Award accepted by Barry Munro and Joseph Falconeri, of Falconeri Munro Tucci LLP, on behalf of Play It Cool. Falconeri Munro Tucci LLP is a premiere partner of the Canadian Spinal Research Organization, and Mr. Munro is their chair.
Louise Russo, W.A.V.E. (Working Against Violence Everyday)
Nominated by Charles Gluckstein of Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers, and Jason Singer of Singer, Kwinter Personal Injury Lawyers.
In 2004, while buying a sandwich for her daughter, Louise Russo was the victim of a drive-by shooting. A bullet struck her spine and left her wheelchair-bound. Despite the devastating impact of this senseless act of violence, Ms. Russo did not let it get the best of her. She worked tirelessly to overcome the obstacles facing her. And she was motivated to work towards making her community safer. She went on to become a champion for youth who are considered at high risk for violence and criminal activity, and established the not-for-profit organization W.A.V.E.
With W.A.V.E., Ms. Russo travels to schools across Ontario to speak to and work with parents, teachers and the community to ensure that more youth do not follow in her shooter’s steps. W.A.V.E. also awards scholarships to youth to help them access education and programs to enhance their lives now and in the future. Ms. Russo has sat on the board for the Office for Victims of Crime through the Attorney General’s office. She has been awarded the YMCA Medallion Award, and the Attorney General’s Victim Services Award of Distinction. She is a supporter of Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and many other causes. Ms. Russo is an inspiration to accident victims and the community as a whole. She has overcome a tragic event in her life, and has chosen to focus her time and energy on making our streets safer from violence.
Eleanor McMahon, Share the Road Cycling Coalition
Nominated by Judith Hull of Judith Hull & Associates.
The Share the Road Cycling Coalition is a provincial cycling advocacy organization created to unite cycling organizations across Ontario and to work with and on behalf of municipalities to help make communities more bicycle-friendly. It is Ms. McMahon’s inspiration, vision and hard work that have helped create safer roads for cyclists throughout Ontario. The organization began in memory of OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart, Ms. McMahon’s husband. Sergeant Stobbart was killed in a cycling accident in June 2006. Following the death of her husband, Ms. McMahon worked to advocate for and engineer legislative change in Ontario. One such change was “Greg’s Law,” so named in honour of Sergeant Stobbart, which comprised amendments to the Ontario Road Safety Act that target motorists who drive while suspended, unlicensed and therefore uninsured. Ms. McMahon also spearheaded the development of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition. The mandate of the Coalition is province-wide, with a focus on developing public policy at the provincial level to provide the kind of legislative and funding instruments that exist in other provinces, such as Quebec and British Columbia. Since its inception, the Coalition has focused on outreach work with a view to building partnerships with like-minded stakeholders across Ontario to affect change. Their goal is to unite Ontarians to make Ontario the most bicycle-friendly jurisdiction in the world. We look forward to seeing everything that Ms. McMahon and the Share the Road Cycling Coalition will do in the coming years to promote safe and active bicycle transportation.