Sheldon Cleaves

My involvement with ALS started 20 years ago, in 1997, when my mother (by adoption) was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 79 and passed away a short time later. A few years later, in 2001, after moving with my family from Connecticut to Vancouver Island, I was once again touched by the struggles and frustration of ALS. Andre Denomme, our neighbour and the husband of one of my wife’s best friends, was diagnosed and thus started his long seven-year journey.

I had the great fortune of growing up as a competitive figure skater in an Olympic Village (Lake Placid, NY) where, for the most part, you are insulated from illness and your main focus is training.  This led to a professional career with Feld Entertainment (Disney On Ice) as one of the headliners for 10 years. That portion of my career opened my eyes to primarily child illnesses, as we would visit countless hospitals.  The perspective gained from those visits introduced me to not only the frustration of the individual with the illness but also the resolve of the families through the toughest of times.

That perspective, along with 27 years of business management in the sports/entertainment and recreational vehicle industry, allowed me the insight and vision to navigate ALS first with my mother and later with Andre and the community. I wanted to find a way to be proactive in the ALS fight.  As the service manager for Greg’s RV in Duncan, I knew I was able to communicate with a wide base, so I joined the North Island chapter of ALS BC on the Island.  With guidance from Jean and Gord Pearmain, pioneers in the fight for a cure, I was able to sit as a member on the board.  Over the four years that I was directly involved, we were able to fundraise nearly $60,000 that went to supporting the Denomme family and ALS.  To this day, the fight continues with groups like the Old Hustlers Hockey Club of the Cowichan Valley, which donate unsolicited.

I look forward to again being directly involved, providing support and hope to those families of the North Island dealing with ALS on a daily basis. The goal is to heighten awareness, provide support and fund research so we can one day say we won the fight.  I look forward to being a part of the push for a cure here on Vancouver Island and British Columbia.