Generosity of Spirit™ and Professional Award 2021 Recipients
AFP Calgary and Area Chapter recognizes the many individuals, families, groups and businesses who demonstrate the spirit of philanthropy through outstanding contributions of time, talent, leadership and financial support. The Generosity of Spirit™ Awards provides the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate these philanthropic leaders that make a difference in our community – whether the community is local, regional, national or international.
Generosity of Spirit™ Awards are a vital component to the National Philanthropy Day® celebrations in Calgary & southern Alberta. This day provides an opportunity for non-profit organizations, professionals, volunteers, service organizations and others in the community to acknowledge and showcase their philanthropic partners.
Children on the autism spectrum face language challenges, many are non-verbal. Dane has the ability to speak, though it is difficult to get a statement directly. Here are his responses to four (4) questions his Mom asked him:
Why do you do your lemonade stand for AAFS? Because I want to be kind.
Why is it important to give back? I like AAFS. It has activities I can do.
Why is it important to bring awareness to AAFS? It’s important so other kids with autism can go there too.
What makes you want to do this next year? I want to raise more money for new programs and activities.
nominated by Autism Aspergers Friendship Society
Dane Benesh was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of 8 years. When he was 8, his Mom found the Autism Aspergers Friendship Society (AAFS). AAFS provides respite care in a social and recreational environment for children, youth and adults on the Autism spectrum. Our mission is friendship. Our mission statement was written entirely by two AAFS Members, and it reads:
Friendship means someone who you can trust and/or someone who heals you. You cannot simply ask to be friends, or if the other person is your friend, it is much more advanced than a yes or no answer, and friendship builds up over time.
Friendship is “People getting to know other people and being interested in one another. Liking them for who they are, and not judging them. Not judging the book by its cover.”
It is in this environment that Dane found a place where he could have fun, make friends and indulge in his passion for all things with wheels.
As an avid cyclist, Dane wanted to learn how to take care of his own bike. In 2019, he took part in AAFS’ Earn A Bike program. This is a program in partnership with Two Wheeled View. Members enroll, attend two, two-hour sessions once a week for 8-weeks, and at the end, receive their own bike, helmet and bike lock.
Dane’s involvement in the program and with AAFS began him on his philanthropic journey!
His first fundraising effort happened on the 2019 May long weekend, when Dane set up a lemonade stand at Mclean Creek. This is a popular spot for mountain bikes, dirt bikes & ATV riders. His first fundraising attempt raised $88.
Fast forward to May 2020 … wind, rain, cold AND OF COURSE COVID, but our dedicated young man was not deterred. Lemonade was the drink of the day and $300+ was raised.
Then we have 2021 and what a year this has been. Not even COVID-19 could keep Dane away. This year, Dane got a corporate sponsor (UTV Canada) who committed to matching whatever amount he raised.
UTV Canada provides all things wheeled – bikes, parts, clothing, and more. Dane has been buying from them for all his dirt bike/ATV needs and they in turn put their corporate support behind him.
Dane raised $750 and UTV Canada matched it, dollar for dollar with their cheque for $750. Both amounts were donated through Birdies for Kids which leveraged additional money that increased the overall donation amount.
This young man is now 11 years old. Take a passion for riding, add a belief in AAFS’ mission and vision, and you have a youth beginning his philanthropic journey.