‘Hardest working man at BACI’ Gerry Juzenas honoured for his advocacy
Thursday June 7, 2012 — Ryan Rogers
Sporting the official yellow jacket and toque of Rick Hansen’s 25th Anniversary Relay, Gerry Juzenas proudly carried the baton 250 metres, uphill towards Simon Fraser University, as one of the few selected to join in on celebration of the Man in Motion tour.
Hansen’s 1985-87 tour wheeling around the world raised money and awareness for spinal cord injury — but over time it has become a message of empowerment, advocacy and awareness for people of all abilities.
Gerry was nominated by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) to participate, and he was selected from thousands of applicants, which recognizes and honours Gerry’s almost 40 years of advocacy for the inclusion movement.
After the relay, each participant received a replica of the “baton” they passed from runner to runner. Gerry tells the BACI Blast the medal is more than a commemorative keepsake, but also a symbol of his almost 40 years of advocacy.
“If you get an opportunity like this, it’s a big honour to have,” says Gerry. “It gives me a whole bunch of confidence.”
Outreach support worker Jake Keithley joined Gerry at the race. He says Gerry carrying the baton was a well-deserved honour.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” says Jake. “Gerry’s the hardest working man at BACI.”
Gerry has served as an advocate for BACI for 12 years, teaching about people’s rights. Once conflicted with “bad depression,” he says being a self-advocate has been empowering, and gives him the courage to be a representative on boards and a public speaker.
He has recently returned from a self-advocate conference in Penticton, B.C. speaking about the closing of large institutions throughout B.C., and how residents were systemically abused physically, emotionally and sexually.
“Gerry was a part of knocking down the final wall of the Woodlands Institution in New Westminster,” adds Jake. The Woodlands School was closed in 1996 and demolished in 2011.
Gerry says wearing the symbolic medal from the relay impressed everyone at the conference — and he says he’s going to continue to advocate for people.
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