New Kevin Schenk Legacy Award honours those who thrive facing barriers

Sarnia City/County Councillor Brian White presents the first Kevin Schenk Legacy Award to his brother, William, and sisters, Kate and Maggie, Thursday.

Sarnia will honour people who break down barriers in their daily lives with the new Kevin Schenk Legacy Award.

Sarnia City/County Councillor Brian White presented the first award to Kevin’s brother, William, and sisters, Kate and Maggie, during a ceremony Thursday.

Schenk passed away in October 2021 with his family noting his “lifelong participation in his community has been astonishing and admirable.”

Kevin Schenk

Schenk, who lived with Down’s syndrome, grew up in Wyoming supported by Lambton County Developmental Services. He was active in his church, was a 4H member, went to Wyoming Public School and then LCCVI, and participated in Special Olympics.

He went to live in supportive housing in Sarnia in his 20s where his passion for community work continued including fundraising on Team Hoyt in the Ride for Refuge. He was also on the board of the Sarnia Association for Community Living. Kevin held part time jobs, was politically active in election campaigns, and active in his church. He was also part of the Sarnia Legion and helped out with local baseball teams in the summer.

White, who is a member of the Sarnia Accessibilty Advisory Committee, developed the concept of the Kevin Schenk Legacy Award.

“I thought it would be an amazing addition to the annual celebration, to highlight somebody who faces barriers in their daily life, yet who continues to thrive in unique and meaningful ways.

“Barriers are different for everybody. And so are the successes that they achieve. To me it’s worth celebrating the resilience and determination it takes to wake up every day and live your best life,” White wrote on Facebook.

“Kevin demonstrated that determination every day. Kevin lived with Down’s Syndrome. He didn’t let that stop him from building relationships across the community, living independently, having jobs, and volunteering for countless organizations. If you knew Kevin, chances are you knew his hugs. And you knew his smile and sense of humor. It is that determination that inspired us as a committee to want to celebrate folks who take on life’s challenges in their own ways.”