Photography by Jérome Photographer Image by: Photography by Jérome Photographer
Where he's from: Ottawa
Award: In The Community Award
Contribution: Back in 2012, Tysen Lefebvre, who has Pfeiffer syndrome Type 2 (a rare genetic disorder that prematurely fuses bones in the skull, impacting the shape of the head and face), got to meet his hero, actor Adam Sandler, through Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario. He enjoyed the experience so much that he wanted other children to have their wishes come true. He set a goal to raise $1 million over five years for the charity's Adopt-A-Wish program to grant wishes for 100 children; so far, he's raised more than $330,000—and helped support 25 wishes.
When was the first time you saw an issue and thought, I need to do something about this?
It was when I got my wish. I wanted to help another child get a wish.
Do you have a mentor, someone who inspired you to become a volunteer?
Adam Sandler. When I met him, he had pictures all over his office in California that people had sent him, thanking him for doing stuff for them and helping them in different ways. I thought that was really cool. I went around the office, looking at everything, and it really inspired me. So, after my wish, I decided that, instead of helping one child get a wish, I wanted to help 100 children.
Was there a moment when you realized, Yes, this is what I should be doing?
Whenever I do a wish. I get to meet the kids I do wishes for. I tell them what their wish is going to be, and there's lots of moments I feel I'm doing the right thing.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
Raising money. I've got a five-year plan, so I'm trying to raise $200,000 a year. So far, I have raised about $300,000. I do golf tournaments, hockey tournaments and bake sales, and there's my website, where people can donate money. And they can buy bracelets, T-shirts and a dog collar with the website on them.
What trait or skill has helped you in your volunteer work?
Socializing. Being able to talk to everybody I meet. I give them a bracelet to start off with and invite them to check out my website and my Facebook page. I have a lot of support in the community; kids get involved—they do lemonade stands—and schools get involved and do fundraisers and donate to Make-A-Wish.
What is the most frequent question you're asked about volunteering?
"How was meeting Adam Sandler?" I tell them that he's just like he is in the movies.
Describe the feeling when you hit one of your volunteering goals.
It's like I'm getting my own wish all over again.
Meet our 2015 Me to We Award winners for more inspirational stories like Tysen's.
This story was originally part of "Everyday Heroes" in the October 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!