UPEI students Kathleen Murphy, Stephanie Culleton, and Ben Cudmore received recognition from the Canadian Cancer Society at a ceremony held in Charlottetown on April 22. Murphy received the national Outstanding Youth Leadership Award (given to only one youth volunteer in Canada each year); Culleton received the PEI Division’s Leaders of Tomorrow Award; and Cudmore and his family received the national medal of courage. President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, Pamela Fralick was on hand to present the awards.
Murphy was honored for her leadership, which motivates hundreds of volunteers, and has inspired a new generation of Island youth to become more involved in the fight against cancer.
The award nomination package mentions that in 2010, Murphy and her friends created Canada’s first “Tan-Free Prom” campaign. Their effort to promote the idea of “love the skin you’re in” received national media attention, and was applauded across the country. A framework to duplicate this initiative was developed and shared with PEI high schools, as well as with cancer prevention staff across the Society. Tan-Free Proms now take place across the country. Murphy has also been a strong advocate to ban the regular use of tanning beds. Her advocacy efforts led to provincial bans on tanning bed usage by minors under the age of 18, including a ban in PEI in 2012. Her hard work and commitment to seeing restrictions on tanning for youth will have a lasting impact on the lives of Canadians.
Over past three years, Murphy has also co-chaired UPEI’s Relay for Life. And prior to that, she helped lead the Kensington Intermediate Senior High School’s Relay For Life. Over the years, she helped to raise over $200,000 for cancer research and for the Society’s programs and services on Prince Edward Island.
“Kathleen has been a driving force for the UPEI Relay for Life fundraiser for a number of years now,” said Interim Vice-President Academic Christian Lacroix. “Her leadership, energy, and enthusiasm is contagious and has made the annual event such a success.”
Culleton was recognized provincially for her courage and motivation as a cancer survivor herself, and for her avid volunteerism with the Society, in particular with the Westisle Relay for Life. Culleton is currently enrolled in nursing at UPEI and continues to volunteer with the Westisle Relay for Life, as well as the UPEI Relay for Life, and the Kensington Relay for Life.
Cudmore and his family received the national honour “for their efforts to inspire others on a cancer journey.” Ben, alongside his mother Michele, father Jamie, sister Tess, and brother Jon, advocated for catastrophic drug coverage for all Islanders and raised thousands of dollars to advance the mission of the Canadian Cancer Society, all while Michele was battling cancer. The Cudmore family lost Michele to the disease in August 2013.
“My dad says it’s really Mom who deserves this award because she was so brave and such an inspiration the whole time. But it feels really good to get something like this because we have been courageous. We’ve been through a lot and we’re just happy to share our story,” said Ben in a news release issued by the Canadian Cancer Society.
UPEI congratulates Kathleen, Stephanie, and Ben!