Mike Cox

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.

Local Torch Run efforts total approximately $6,000

By RTT Staff

The Law Enforcement Torch Run passed through Windsor-Essex County last Wednesday with Amherstburg being the mid-day stop along the way.

Runners gather at Joe Meloche Ford following the Amherstburg leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run May 25.

Runners gather at Joe Meloche Ford following the Amherstburg leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run May 25.

A barbecue was held at the Amherstburg police station with Sr. Const. Shawn McCurdy, Libro Credit Union branch manager Cathy Thomas and Chief Tim Berthiaume manning the grill throughout the afternoon. Members of the Essex County Heroes Athletic Club were on hand for the barbecue as were others supported by Community Living Essex County’s Channel Resource Centre.

Sgt. Mike Cox not only ran in the run itself, but helped with major fundraisers leading into the day. A Polar Plunge back in the winter, a charity hockey game with the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals several weeks ago and other donations pushed the overall local fundraising total to over $6,000, said Cox.

Sr. Const. Rocco Pelaccia and Sgt. Mike Cox of Amherstburg police visit with Gerald Lemire during the barbecue held prior to the Amherstburg leg of the Torch Run.

Sr. Const. Rocco Pelaccia and Sgt. Mike Cox of Amherstburg police visit with Gerald Lemire during the barbecue held prior to the Amherstburg leg of the Torch Run.

The Amherstburg leg of the Torch Run went from the police station to Joe Meloche Ford with students from General Amherst High School joining in as the run went past.

Officers from Amherstburg, LaSalle, Windsor, OPP, Canada Customs, Corrections Canada, RCMP and Immigration all took part in this year’s Torch Run.

Torch Run hitting the streets next Wednesday

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

The Law Enforcement Torch Run returns to Windsor-Essex County for its 2016 edition next Wednesday.

The torch and the police officers involved in the run will be involving a number of municipalities in the region with Amherstburg being one of them. Sgt. Mike Cox, who works with Sgt. Melissa Taylor in organizing local Torch Run efforts, estimated the bus with the participants should arrive in Amherstburg around 12:30 p.m.

In the meantime, a barbecue will be held at the Amherstburg police station where the public is invited for lunch. A group from Community Living Essex County’s Channel Resource Centre will also be on hand for the barbecue.

Cox said additional runners are welcome. A gym class from General Amherst High School is expected to join the run, Cox added. The run itself is expected to start at 1 p.m. and go from the police station to Joe Meloche Ford.

The Windsor-Essex County Torch Run gets underway in Tecumseh at 8 a.m. All proceeds benefit Ontario Special Olympics.

Essex County Heroes pack the house for annual fundraiser

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was another packed house for the Essex County Heroes annual fundraising dinner.

All 300 tickets were sold for Saturday night’s event at the Verdi Club, with proceeds going directly to the Heroes. The club, formerly known as the Amherstburg Heroes, recently changed its name as they added a Tuesday night basketball session at Colchester North Public School in addition to their Wednesday basketball nights at General Amherst High School.

“We’re very proud of that,” said co-founder Michelle Jones-Rousseau of the expansion.

Jones-Rousseau noted that Heroes is presented in partnership with Community Living Essex County and the Amherstburg Police Service with the Essex OPP also getting on board and helping with the program at Colchester North Public School.

Kate Chant (centre, with plaque) won the 2016 Robert Pillon Memorial Award at the Essex County Heroes fundraiser Saturday night at the Verdi Club. From left: Francois Default, Mike Cox, Ron Pillon, Chant, Richard Pillon, Michelle Jones-Rousseau, Tina LeBlanc.

Kate Chant (centre, with plaque) won the 2016 Robert Pillon Memorial Award at the Essex County Heroes fundraiser Saturday night at the Verdi Club. From left: Francois Default, Mike Cox, Ron Pillon, Chant, Richard Pillon, Michelle Jones-Rousseau, Tina LeBlanc.

Mike Cox, co-founder and a sergeant with Amherstburg police, thanked those in attendance and said everyone plays a role in helping make the Heroes program successful.

“We have hundreds of people here and everyone plays a key part,” said Cox.

Cox highlighted the work of Terry and Lisa Jones, who held a backyard cookoff at their home last November to assist Heroes. The fundraising total from the cookoff alone has now swelled to $30,000.

The way the Heroes program has grown in its 11 years has caught Cox and Jones-Rousseau by surprise, with Jones-Rousseau noting people were already asking her Saturday night about next year’s fundraiser.

“It’s overwhelming,” added Cox.

Cox was amazed at the way it has taken off from its “humble beginnings” where they were scrambling just to buy T-shirts for the players to where they can hold large fundraising dinners and branching out into different communities.

“Suddenly we are putting on events like this,” said Cox. “The whole community is behind it.”

Not only did athletes and their families turn out Saturday night, but so did supporters from all walks of life including current and former politicians who wanted to support the program. Cox noted the support is truly from across the county.

“The bottom line is our athletes are having a fantastic time,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Jones-Rousseau added not only are they extremely thankful to those who came out to support them, they are also grateful to their families for backing them as they spend time working with the Heroes program.

One of the evening’s highlights was the presentation of the Robert Pillon Memorial Award, given to the Heroes athlete that shows dedication and commitment to the program. This year’s recipient was Kate Chant of Amherstburg, whose involvement with Heroes not only includes playing but also sees her help with DVD’s, obtaining door prizes and supporting the program in whatever ways she can.

Chant joined Heroes in 2008 as a way to get some exercise and become involved and shortly thereafter was included in an “Inspiring Possibilities” book. She and others from the Heroes went to Toronto not long after the photoshoot for the book took place at General Amherst during one of the Wednesday night Heroes sessions.

In addition to getting some exercise, Chant said she enjoys being with her friends.

“I meet great people and volunteers,” she said.

Chant also has recently joined New Day, Leaders of Today, a self-advocacy group associated with Community Living Essex County.

In addition to the basketball programs offered at the two area schools, the Essex County Heroes also offers a baseball program in the summer months at the Libro Centre.