Michelle Jones-Rousseau

Heroes’ baseball season underway after wrapping up basketball season

 

By RTT Staff

 

The Essex County Heroes has started its annual baseball season after completing the basketball portion of the program recently.

The Heroes met up with officers from Essex OPP last week at Essex District High School for a basketball game as part of National Access Awareness Week. The week also included a basketball season-ending pizza party at the Fort Fun Centre in Amherstburg.

Michelle Jones-Rousseau, who co-founded the Heroes with Sgt. Mike Cox of the Amherstburg Police Service, was happy with how the year went.

The Essex County Heroes recently went head-to-head with the Essex County OPP in a friendly basketball game.

The Essex County Heroes recently went head-to-head with the Essex County OPP in a friendly basketball game.

“It was a very successful year,” she said. “We had a lot of new faces. We’ve grown so much.”

The Heroes’ basketball program was in Essex for the second straight year, the first at Essex District High School. The Essex component of the program is overseen by OPP officer Sean MacKinnon and Debbie Alexander. It has been roughly a decade at General Amherst High School.

“(Essex) has doubled in size,” said Jones-Rousseau.

There is about 100 people between both sites who participate in Heroes.

There are new athletes that regularly want to join the program and the growth in both towns show the people with disabilities still want opportunities to play sports.

“It just goes to show there is a need out there for recreational activities,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Kyle Jones takes a shot during recent game action in Essex.

Kyle Jones takes a shot during recent game action in Essex.

There is a “large turnover in volunteers,” she added, as students get their volunteer hours but as they get older, work commitments come into play and new volunteers are needed. She pointed out people don’t have to come every week to volunteer.

“For the Heroes, everyone is looking forward to baseball,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Baseball is held Wednesday nights in the indoor sports field at the Libro Centre starting at 6:30 p.m.

Athletes with the Heroes show a lot of personal growth, she added.

“They’ve got the confidence they are good players and they enjoy the exercise,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Essex County Heroes fundraiser held to sold out audience

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was the party of the year for the Essex County Heroes Athletic Club.

The organization’s annual fundraiser was held Saturday night at the Fort Family Fun Centre (formerly the Verdi Club) with over 300 people coming in to not only have a good time, but to assist them as well. The Heroes is supported through Community Living Essex County, the Amherstburg Police Service and Essex OPP but raises its own funds including the proceeds from Saturday night.

“When we started out in 2004, we never expected it to grow like this,” said Michelle Jones-Rousseau, who co-founded the Heroes with Sgt. Mike Cox from the Amherstburg Police Service.

Luke Wheeler was presented the 2017 Robert Pillon Memorial Award during the Essex County Heroes Athletic Club’s annual dinner Saturday night at the Fort Family Fun Centre. From left: Pillon’s brothers Ron and Richard Pillon, Wheeler and Heroes co-founders Mike Cox and Michelle Jones-Rousseau.

Luke Wheeler was presented the 2017 Robert Pillon Memorial Award during the Essex County Heroes Athletic Club’s annual dinner Saturday night at the Fort Family Fun Centre. From left: Pillon’s brothers Ron and Richard Pillon, Wheeler and Heroes co-founders Mike Cox and Michelle Jones-Rousseau.

Jones-Rousseau said it has become an important part of people’s lives as not only do the athletes enjoy the weekly outing, but the coaches do as well.

“This is something we are all very proud of,” she said.

The Heroes continue to operate a basketball program for people with intellectual disabilities Wednesday evenings at General Amherst High School in the fall, winter and spring and now does the same at Essex District High School Tuesday evenings under the direction of OPP Const. Sean MacKinnon and Debbie Alexander. There is also a baseball program at the Libro Centre in the summer.

Jones-Rousseau said there are so many important parts of the Essex County Heroes, adding the volunteers and business community as well. She said people step up to help the organization, with Cox adding the “business community has supported us year-after-year.” Cox encouraged those in attendance at the fundraiser to look at the list of supporters and frequent those businesses.

There have also been other fundraisers that have been recognized, with Jones-Rousseau honouring her brother Terry and his wife Lisa for opening their home for a family cookoff last November. That event raised over $30,000 for the Heroes. Jones-Rousseau noted her niece Mackie shares her birthday and that event also is a great help to the Heroes.

Over 300 people attended the Essex County Heroes dinner at the Fort Fun Centre March 4.

Over 300 people attended the Essex County Heroes dinner at the Fort Fun Centre March 4.

The 2017 Robert Pillon Memorial Award was also presented with that award given to the Heroes athlete that shows dedication and commitment to the program. This year’s recipient was Luke Wheeler, with Wheeler being given credit for how much he has improved his sportsmanship during his time with Heroes. Wheeler has grown to enjoy the program so much that he attends both the Tuesday and Wednesday basketball nights.

Wheeler was excited by his award victory.

“I didn’t know I was going to win,” he said. “I didn’t know who was going to win it.”

Wheeler said he was honoured by the award, adding he enjoys everything about the Heroes program including the ability to make new friends.

“I go on both nights every week,” he stated. “I love all the coaches.”

Eva Penner-Banman and Louis Robidoux dance  during the Essex County Heroes fundraiser Saturday night at the Fort Family Fun Centre in Amherstburg.

Eva Penner-Banman and Louis Robidoux dance
during the Essex County Heroes fundraiser Saturday night at the Fort Family Fun Centre in Amherstburg.

Greetings and congratulations were brought from Community Living Essex County and Amherstburg police, with both organizations recognizing the many volunteers it takes to present the Essex County Heroes program.

“This program is so important to this community,” acknowledged police chief Tim Berthiaume. “This partnership could not take place without the volunteers.”

The Jones family as well as the work of Jones-Rousseau and Cox was also recognized.

“This fundraiser is very important to the program,” added Berthiaume.

Essex County Heroes annual fundraiser coming March 4

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The annual fundraiser to benefit the Essex County Heroes Athletic Club is right around the corner.

The Heroes will host the fundraising dinner March 4 at the Fort Fun Centre, formerly known as the Verdi Club. The Heroes was co-founded by Michelle Jones-Rousseau and Mike Cox and is a partnership between Community Living Essex County, the Amherstburg Police Service and the Essex OPP.

“We’ve added Norm Acklund Jr., who is an Elvis tribute artist,” said Jones-Rousseau. “He’s going to be the M.C.”

The band Bigg Wiggle will also be back “by popular demand,” said Jones-Rousseau.

One of the evening’s highlights will be the presentation of the Robert Pillon Memorial Award. That award, first presented in 2009, goes to the athlete that demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship and dedication to the program.

Robert Pillon, who was supported through CLEC, died Sept. 5, 2008 and was known for being active in the community. Last year’s award was won by Kate Chant.

The evening will also have a photo booth and raffle, with the local businesses and individuals encouraged to donate raffle prizes.

Proceeds from the chicken and pasta dinner go directly into the Essex County Heroes program. The program is free to participants.

“It’s a fun evening,” Jones-Rousseau said of the fundraiser. “It’s a party. It’s a fun event.”

Heroes - JPG

The Essex County Heroes has an estimated 100 athletes in total, said Jones-Rousseau. A recently formed Tuesday night group has about 25 athletes that play out of Essex District High School with the original Wednesday night group having about 60-70 athletes playing out of General Amherst High School. Sean MacKinnon, an OPP officer, and Debbie Alexander, a direct support worker with CLEC, run the Tuesday night program while Cox and Jones-Rousseau run the Wednesday night program.
Jones-Rousseau added there is a group of athletes who only play baseball during the summer months.

“This event and this club have been so successful because of the work of so many volunteers,” said Jones-Rousseau. “They put in a lot of time and dedication. The volunteers we have right now are the best. They just want to make this successful.”

Cox said there are now a lot of adult volunteers, as well as youth volunteers.

“We wouldn’t exist if the volunteers weren’t so committed,” said Cox. “Most of them don’t have a connection. They just enjoy giving back. Everyone has fun.”

The Heroes hopes to have even more people with intellectual disabilities and those who support them come out.
“We encourage as many people as we can to come out. The more the merrier,” said Cox.

The Heroes is a non-competitive environment and Cox said they want to keep it open to everyone at no cost.

Tickets for the March 4 fundraiser are $25 and are available at Channel Resource Centre (260 Bathurst St.), Community Living Essex County (372 Talbot. St. North in Essex), The Fort Fun Centre (689 Texas Road) and the Amherstburg police station (532 Sandwich St. S.). There will be 300 tickets available as Jones-Rousseau noted the full banquet hall will be used since renovations have not started on that portion of the building yet. She pointed out the restaurant portion of the facility is now open.

For more information, e-mail theheroes@email.com or through their Facebook page.

Jones Family cookoff raises $30,000 for Essex County Heroes

 

 

An invitation-only cookoff has once again raised big bucks for the Essex County Heroes athletic club.

The Jones Family cookoff, held at the home of Terry and Lisa Jones, raised $30,000 for the Heroes Saturday night. It featured teams creating their own menus with the the food cooked on an open fire then served to the crowd of well over 100 at the dinner.

The friendly competition was judged by those in attendance with the winner getting bragging rights among Jones friends and business associates.

The event is done in conjunction with celebrating Mackie Jones’ birthday, with Mackie being the 19-year-old daughter of Terry and Lisa.

Lana Cremasco, Rae Ann Copat, Mary Pacanins and Lisa Hearn get into the spirit of things at last Saturday’s Jones cookoff.

Lana Cremasco, Rae Ann Copat, Mary Pacanins and Lisa Hearn get into the spirit of things at last Saturday’s Jones cookoff.

“Every year I share my birthday. We bring the community together to raise money,” said Mackie.

Mackie added friends and family get together and have fun cooking for a good cause.

Mark Vanderbeck said he is one of the many who enjoy getting involved.

“The kids deserve everything they get,” said Vanderbeck.

Vanderbeck and John Vitella helped build a homemade pizza oven specifically for the event. Others hired belly dancers, made banners and dressed in costume to make the event more enjoyable.

“It’s so much fun. We think about it all year long. It’s a year-long process,” said Vanderbeck.

Michelle Jones-Rousseau, co-founder of the Heroes, said her brother and sister-in-law’s event supports what they do and people look forward to it.

The Essex County Heroes is supported by the Amherstburg Police Service and Community Living Essex County.

Unifor Local 1959 assists five area organizations with $1,000 donations

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Unifor Local 1959 has split $5,000 among five Windsor-Essex County non-profit groups, including two based in Amherstburg.

The union distributed five $1,000 cheques at Local 1959 Bud Jimmerfield Hall in Amherstburg last Thursday afternoon. The organizations included the Amherstburg Food Bank, the Essex County Heroes, Street Help, the Unemployed Help Centre and the Windsor Goodfellows.

“Each year, we pick five different, various charities from Amherstburg and the surrounding areas,” explained Local 1959 president Bill Wark. “Each one of these organizations has touched our executive or some of our members. In some way, shape or form, there has been a connection.”

Wark added that by giving each of the five organization a cheque for $1,000, it is Unifor Local 1959’s “chance to say thank you” for their work in assisting others in the Windsor-Essex County community.

Unifor Local 1959 split $5,000 between five different Windsor-Essex County organizations last Thursday at Bud Jimmerfield Hall in Amherstburg. Bottom row (from left): Local 1959 recording secretary Keven McDonald, Unemployed Help Centre foodbank supervisor Debbie Desjardins, Elinor West from the Amherstburg Food Bank, Jeff Thachuk of Windsor Goodfellows, Street Help administrator Christine Furlonger, Essex County Heroes participant Gerald Lemire, Essex County Heroes co-founder Michelle Jones-Rousseau. Back row (from left): Local 1959 trustee Rick Foale, chair Doug Shaw, sgt. at arms, Geoff Bennett, financial secretary Matthew Kelly, president Bill Wark, sgt. at arms Rick Kit, trustee Richard Charuk.

Unifor Local 1959 split $5,000 between five different Windsor-Essex County organizations last Thursday at Bud Jimmerfield Hall in Amherstburg. Bottom row (from left): Local 1959 recording secretary Keven McDonald, Unemployed Help Centre foodbank supervisor Debbie Desjardins, Elinor West from the Amherstburg Food Bank, Jeff Thachuk of Windsor Goodfellows, Street Help administrator Christine Furlonger, Essex County Heroes participant Gerald Lemire, Essex County Heroes co-founder Michelle Jones-Rousseau. Back row (from left): Local 1959 trustee Rick Foale, chair Doug Shaw, sgt. at arms, Geoff Bennett, financial secretary Matthew Kelly, president Bill Wark, sgt. at arms Rick Kit, trustee Richard Charuk.

Elinor West, one of the volunteers at the Amherstburg Food Bank, said the timing is just right to receive such a donation.

“It’s going to be a huge help,” she said.

Summer is usually tougher for the food bank with not as much food available for those in need, West added, as donations are slow this time of year. Most of the donations come during the Christmas season.

“This is going to help us put food on the shelves,” said West.

Michelle Jones-Rousseau, accompanied by Heroes athlete Gerald Lemire, said that organization was pleased to receive the funding from Local 1959.

“We’re very grateful,” said Jones-Rousseau, the Heroes’ co-founder.

The fact the Heroes received one of the donation reflects the growth of the local athletic club, she said. It is geared towards those with intellectual disabilities.

“It’s something to be proud of when other organizations are recognizing how much we’ve accomplished over the years,” said Jones-Rousseau. “We’ve become an important part of the community.”

Street Help is a Windsor organization that operates as a drop-in centre operated by and for the homeless. The Unemployed Help Centre tries to aid the unemployed and underemployed “reach their employment goals.” The Windsor Goodfellows have been helping various charities since its inception in 1910.