Jeff Fisher

Although Jeff’s family roots are in the province of Manitoba, he truly fell in love with Winnipeg during a successful career as Assistant Director of Football Operations and Medical Coordinator/Head Therapist with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

In 1998, Jeff opened ELITE Performance, ELITE Sports Injury, and soon after that partnered in a number of wellness related businesses in Winnipeg. After realizing so much success, he believed it was his duty to give back to the community that he grew to love so dearly. In 2002, the death of his grandfather, Sam Rhynard who was Jeff’s hero figure, provided the motivation for Project-ECHO. (ELITE Cooperative Help Organization). With humble beginnings, providing just three families with a Christmas that would have made his grandfather proud, ECHO has since provided thousands of Winnipeggers with food/clothing and compassion over the holiday season. But that was not enough for Jeff, or the newly formed organization that he had founded. To date, over two million dollars in new clothes, food, and sundries have been provided to his dear friends in the inner city. In 2013, Project ECHO lead the charge in building a new commercial kitchen at the Lighthouse Mission that was able to provide more than 500 hot full meals, per day – a dramatic increase from the 120 bowls of soup the kitchen was able to provide previously.

Most recently, through Jeff’s need to improve the lives of others, he has spearheaded a program to provide spinal cord injury patients with the opportunity of fellowship and access to sport and wellness that previously many have been unable to receive. Not only is Jeff a hero in the eyes of many Winnipeggers, his wife Melanie and son Sam can attest that his devotion to creating a better world for all around him, is most felt at home.

Danny Kleinsasser

Danny Kleinsasser, the owner of Danny’s Whole Hog, is a successful, well known, highly regarded local business man in Manitoba. Danny’s employees see him as a supportive, personal mentor and a great encouragement to them in their own personal growth, but much more than that Danny is also a very generous and compassionate human being.

Six years ago, after touring Siloam Mission, Danny generously donated a fully catered dinner to more than 800 volunteers for their annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and has done so every year since. He is a huge supporter of several other Winnipeg charities, including Winnipeg Harvest, Youth for Christ, Teen Challenge, Lighthouse Mission, CJOB’s ‘Hunger for Hope’, the Winnipeg Goldeyes’ Field of Dreams Foundation, the Kidney Foundation’s ‘Raising Hope on the Runway’ campaign, and the Springs Inner City Church.

He remains a community-man; supporting many local events in the Interlake including Ride for Dad, Ride for Mom, goose shoots, the MS Society and many more. He also plays a big role in the hunting and fishing scene in Manitoba, sponsoring professional anglers like Todd Longley by donating food to the Generation Next Angler Fishing Tournaments, which aims to introduce children and youth and their families to the sport of fishing. Danny’s involvement with charities, the community, the fishing industry, his commitment to being a family-man and his caring, generous and absolutely selfless demeanor are why many Manitobans view him as their hero.

Samantha Lussier

In 2015, Samantha’s mother Tina saw a Facebook post about 11 year old, Allexis Siebrecht, who was in desperate search of a liver donor. As a Board Member and survivor of liver disease, Tina was well acquainted with the Canadian Liver Foundation, and with Allexis and her mother, and knowing that Samantha was already on the bone marrow transplant list, brought it to her attention.

Without a second thought, Samantha decided that she needed to help. She sent in an application and began the testing procedures. Toronto Sick Kid’s hospital contacted her to say she was a match in the first stage of testing! Knowing that there were more exhaustive and painful tests involved and that she may still not be the perfect match, Samantha began a media awareness campaign which involved countless interviews to local and national media to help Allexis as well as to raise the money needed for Samantha and her mother to fly to Toronto to undergo further testing.

After taking a week off from work and flying to Toronto to undergo the necessary tests, it was revealed that her liver was not anatomically appropriate for transplant. Although upset and disappointed, this did not deter Samantha, she was still determined to help. Samantha returned to Winnipeg to meet Allexis and her mother for the first time and then undertook several fundraising events and more media interviews to encourage awareness and raise funds for Allexis’ travel and medical expenses, should one of the potential donors result in a match for her. Events included the #HelpSaveAllexis Bracelet Blitz Fundraiser, a BBQ at Co Op and the #HelpSaveAllexis Bud, Spud & Steak Fundraiser. Samantha worked tirelessly emailing requests for donations, running around collecting prizes, organizing and volunteering at the events and graciously speaking to all media who asked. Many new potential organ donors came forward to register with Transplant Manitoba and Samantha raised approximately $30,000. Allexis did end up getting her liver from a deceased donor and she and Samantha now have a friendship and a bond that will last a lifetime.

Big Daddy Tazz

Big Daddy Tazz has been bringing the laughter to national television audiences, festivals, fundraisers and corporate events for the last twenty five years. A keynote speaker, who likes to enlighten, educate and inspire.

“What drives me is the ability to create change, however big or small, in bettering the lives of those in need in your community.” There is no real agenda for which charities he chooses, the only stipulation is that they must have a component that benefits children and the charity must concentrate on local initiatives, so the funds raised stay in the communities in which they are generated. Some of the more frequent recipients of his attention have been, CNIB, Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation, and Student Self Awareness Projects.

Tazz, known as the Bi-Polar Buddha, diligently travels North America with his “Stand-Up Against Stigma” campaign, speaking openly about his mental illnesses to help eliminate the stigma associated with being diagnosed with a mental illness. His latest endeavour, “Running A.M.O.K (Actively Motivating Our Kids)” has Tazz visiting schools across Manitoba in his NT Bully (Anti-Bully) Machine, a sparkle pink, teal and purple jeep. Tazz delights students of all ages pontificating on the value of self. If you believe in your own self, then no one can bully you, nothing can hold you back, and achieving your dreams are a mere thought away. Once the students take the “NT Bully Oath” they head outside and add their signature to the Jeep, which currently boasts over 2000 signatures!

Ian Rabb

Ian Rabb says confessing his need for help was the first step on his road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. He came from a loving family, but never felt quite good enough, he felt like an outsider. With the help of his father and a law enforcement officer, Ian began his road to recovery. But that is only the beginning of his story. Now he works tirelessly to support those who want to create a better life and remain free from addiction. Many have little or no life skills, education, or job opportunities, but through the guidance of the homes Ian has established, they have become contributing members of society.

Before building the Aurora Recovery Centre, a five year dream in the making, Ian saw a need for aftercare for people completing addictions treatment. In 2007, Ian established Two Ten Recovery Inc., a non-profit 14 bed home for men and then 2009, he also established Destiny House, a 12 bed home for women recovering from addiction. The three homes combined help at least 115 people per year to rebuild their lives – in excess of 1,000 people to date.

Ian travels internationally as a speaker for the addictions industry. He has had numerous achievements including: being nominated as a Finalist for the Scotiabank Game changers (celebrating local heroes) in 2012; he was awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012; he is a Voices-forum chair and participant on the Provincial Meth Task force. Ian was also appointed to the Homelessness Task Force, the board of End Homelessness Winnipeg and the Community Advisory Board for The Homelessness Partnering Strategy. He has worked extensively on the boards of: Jewish Child and family services, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, the Tamarac Rehab and the Health Science Centre Foundation. Ian has dedicated his life to saving lives, supporting families torn apart by addiction and to his passion of ending homelessness in Winnipeg.