Three years ago, an extraordinary young man, Brandon Schupp, then 13, climbed a 10,000 foot mountain to raise money and awareness for the 10,000 kids in Canada living with cancer. He had been deeply touched by the battle of his young neighbour, then three, who was fighting neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest childhood cancers.
Brandon Schupp became an immediate media sensation and a powerful advocate for the need to support research into childhood cancers. Featured in the Globe and Mail, a repeat guest on Canada AM, he was also named a “Reader’s Digest Hero of the Year,” sharing the honour with Stephen Lewis, among others.
His story reached 10’s of millions of Canadians and he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Prime Minister took note, sending him a letter and he was feted everywhere, including at the annual Childhood Cancer Foundation Gala. In his speech, Brandon didn’t focus on what he did but shone the glory back on those who had supported and inspired him, including his mother Ann and kids fighting cancer.
Now 16, Brandon Schupp asked me if I’d be a reference for a summer job he was applying for. You can imagine the interviewer’s surprise when she learned through me about all he had accomplished. He hadn’t mentioned it – not once – in the interview. Instead, he’d focused on his first aid skills and his ability with children. That says a lot about Brandon and the man he will be.
Brandon is in a band, 3’s Addiction, with two other very talented and impressive young men, Duncan Macdonald and Corbin Martin. They came in from London this past weekend to have lunch with me and talk about music and their plans for the band’s future.
They have promise – and more than that, they have the willingness to work. They didn’t come to me looking for praise. They came looking to find out what they should be doing differently and what they could be doing better.
These are young men of character, men who aren’t afraid to look at their weaknesses.
I am not sure we have done the next generation any favours by rewarding them with gold stars simply for showing up. But not everyone works for gold stars. Brandon Schupp is certainly proof of that. I think Corbin and Duncan are too.
Lunch with these three young men was deeply humbling and inspiring. They give me hope. They know the value of hard work and gratitude.
Rock on, guys. Rock on…