Claire Carver Dias and Brad Spence Presented with 2017 AthletesCAN Awards
AthletesCAN – September 22, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – For 2017, AthletesCAN’s 25th Anniversary, Claire Carver Dias is the recipient of the 2017 Athlete Leadership Award and the Athlete Social Responsibility Award was presented to Brad Spence.
The pair was honoured Friday in Ottawa during the AthletesCAN 25th Anniversary Excellence Celebration at the Brookstreet hotel as part of the 2017 AthletesCAN Forum. The AthletesCAN Forum featured a weekend of over 100 Olympians, Paralympians, and top high-performance athletes and leaders, providing an opportunity to network, share ideas, learn about the sport system and develop leadership skills through interactive workshops and presentations. Outside of competition, the AthletesCAN Forum is Canada’s largest and most inclusive gathering of national team athlete representatives.
The Athlete Leadership Award, sponsored by Purolator, Inc., recognizes the contributions of Canadian athlete leaders and celebrates the importance of athlete representatives and the successes they have achieved through their work as leaders and agents of change.
“As a Canadian company, Purolator is proud to support AthletesCAN and we congratulate Claire Carver-Dias on her receipt of the 2017 AthletesCAN Leadership Award, as well as on her profound success as a leader in sport,” says Aaron Spigelblatt, Manager AthletesCAN Partnership, Purolator Inc. “Claire Carver Dias’ longstanding leadership in sport and continued work as an advocate and a role model for her peers across Canada, has inspired many of our country’s determined athletes to achieve greatness.”
Claire Carver Dias, the 2017 recipient, is a 30-time international medalist in synchronized swimming. Throughout her career, she has earned an Olympic bronze medal, two gold medals in the Pan American Games (Duet and Team) and two gold medals in the Commonwealth Games (Duet and Solo). Her passion for athlete’s rights has contributed to a number of sport organizations and athlete causes including the Coaching Association of Canada, Commonwealth Games Canada and AthletesCAN.
“AthletesCAN has taught me so much over the years and I have taken what I learned, including what good leadership is all about, and have applied it to other parts of my life, including the roles I’ve played in the sport world beyond my athletic career,” said Carver Dias. “I’m so grateful for this award, it is such an honour to have been selected. There is still so much I want to accomplish and improve within the Canadian sport system, so I will accept this award as a word of encouragement from my peers and keep going!”
The AthletesCAN Athlete Social Responsibility Award recognizes that athlete social responsibility (ASR) leaders play a crucial role in building a healthier, more active global population. The ASR award celebrates the importance of athletes giving back, honours the impact athletes have achieved through their volunteer work as role models in their communities and encourages former athletes to stay connected to the sport community.
Presented for 2017 to Brad Spence, Spence was a member of Canada’s alpine skiing team at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Brad had to overcome a serious lower body injury suffered in 2005 to compete for Canada. His accomplishments on the slopes include being Canadian Giant Slalom champion in 2010, and having 14 top 20 finishes on the world cup circuit. Following his second Olympic appearance, Brad retired from competition at age 30, completed a degree in commerce from Royal Roads University and always mindful of social responsibility, founded a non-profit organization called Helmets for Heroes. Helmets for Heroes connects an athlete with an artist, and a child battling illness, to collaborate and design a helmet to be worn in competition.
“Brad was a great competitor and then turned his dedication for his sport into an opportunity to change people’s lives and create an organization that gives back,” says AthletesCAN President Josh Vander Vies. “Helmets for heroes has provided children battling illness with an opportunity to focus on creating a beautiful product with a purpose that will forever represent the unique team behind the creation of the helmet.”
Receiving the Athlete Sustainability Award, Spence identified how truly humbling the moment was.
“It’s truly an honour to be considered for this award, let alone receive it, as I have looked up to past recipients. As an athlete, I feel that we have a certain responsibility to give back to the community and be strong mentors to those less fortunate,” said Spence. “To me, connecting back to my community has always been important, and I’m lucky to have stumbled across an opportunity that taught me the true value of what’s possible. By rallying around the common purpose of concussion awareness and traumatic brain injury prevention, we are able to make a lasting difference for ourselves, those around us, and the future generation of sporting champions.”
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As the voice of Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centred sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture.
Claire Carver Dias
Claire Carver Dias is a 30-time international medalist in synchronized swimming. Throughout her career, she has earned an Olympic bronze medal, two gold medals in the Pan American Games (Duet and Team) and two gold medals in the Commonwealth Games (Duet and Solo). Her leadership contributions to Canadian athletes and sport both in and out of the pool are numerous.
During her competitive career, Claire developed a passion for athlete’s rights by acting as the spokesperson for her team to the media. Claire has since contributed to a number of sport organizations and athlete causes including being athlete representative to the Coaching Association of Canada Board of Directors, a member of the Commonwealth Games Canada Bid Review Committee, a member of the the City of Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Olympic Games, AthletesCAN Board of Directors, AthletesCAN President and communications consultant to many sport organizations and athletes. Most recently, she was named Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, in Gold Coast, Australia.
Claire has numerous Canadian sport awards to her name including being a finalist for the 2002 Athlete of the Year (Aquatics Canada) and has been inducted to the Canada Games Hall of Honour. the Synchro Quebec Sport Hall of Fame and the Mississauga Sports hall of Fame.
Claire has been involved in numerous charities across Canada including presenting for Esteem Team Association (now Motivate Canada) and CleanAir Champions.
Currently, Claire is an award-winning author for her novel “The Games”, and speaks professionally at high-profile sport and business conferences. Claire owns a successful communication consulting company, Clearday. Through Clearday, she has worked with several Olympians, and sports organization like Synchro Canada, Canada Bobsleigh Skeleton, and the Coaching Association of Canada.
Brad Spence was a member of the Canada’s alpine skiing team at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Brad had an uphill battle to wear the maple leaf in Vancouver, enduring a three-year recovery period following a serious lower body injury suffered in 2005. Following his second Olympic appearance, Brad made the conscious decision to retire at age 30. His accomplishments on the slopes include being Canadian Giant Slalom champion in 2010, and having 14 top 20 finishes in the world cup circuit.
During his retirement, Brad completed a degree in Commerce from Royal Roads University and founded a non-profit organization called Helmets for Heroes. The origins of the organization dated back to Brad’s final Olympic appearance in Sochi where he wore a custom designed helmet in competition. The helmet was designed by a young patient named Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, in Calgary, AB. The helmet received an incredible amount of support from all parties involved. Inspired by this concept, Brad’s genuine spirit, platform as an athlete, and commerce background, lead him to the create the successful non-profit organization.
Helmets for Heroes connects an athlete with an artist, and a child battling illness to collaborate and design a helmet to be worn in competition. Once the project is complete, and the helmet has been worn, the helmet is auctioned off and all proceeds are donated to the child’s charity of choice. Helmets for Heroes bigger picture focuses on giving opportunities for children battling illness to dream, set positive long-term goals, share their story and serves as a reminder to stay positive during difficult times.
Helmets for heroes has partnered with Luge Canada, and has completed 13 projects with athletes including:
Brad Spence (Alpine Ski)
Sam Edney (Luge)
Mitchel Malyk (Luge)
Tristan Walker (Luge)
Alex Gough (Luge)
Kim McRae (Luge)
Justin Smith (Luge)
John Fennel (Luge)
Arianne Jones (Luge)
Brady Leman (Alpine Ski)
Jan Hudec (Alpine Ski)
Monique Sullivan (Track Cycling)
Chris Mazdzer (USA Luge)