He was one of Reader’s Digest Heroes of the Year, named in 2007 for the previous year, along with four others, including Stephen Lewis. His name is Brandon Schupp, and when I met him via Mary Lye and David Stones then at The Childhood Cancer Foundation, Brandon was 13, and wanting to climb a ten thousand foot mountain on behalf of the ten thousand kids in Canada living with cancer. He did, becoming a media sensation, garnering 10’s of millions of media hits and featured on Canada AM 3 times in the span of a few weeks, including from the top of the mountain.
Brandon had been inspired to do his climb by his young friend and neighbour, a little boy who battled neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest of childhood cancers. He tragically lost his battle last year.
Brandon is now 18 and every bit the young man we all believed he’d become. He is going off to college, preparing for what he hopes will be a career in policing. He’ll be a brilliant cop. He is quick on his feet, a pragmatist, and cares about youth. I know this because, good man that he is, he and his mother come visit me once or twice a year, where we get caught up on life and Brandon’s plans for the future. This time, dear friend and colleague Deborah Keegan was also able to join us.
The tradition started when he was 14 and Brandon, of his own volition, saved up his allowance so he could come into Toronto to take me for lunch to catch up for a visit. I can tell you, no lunch ever tasted so good. He is a remarkable young man from a wonderful family, and I am grateful that Brandon and the Schupp-Freeman family have become and remained dear friends over the years.
In Brandon, as in so many of the youth with whom we are privileged to work, I see great hope for the future. And he will be a great future cop wherever he ends up.