“Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants”
Shelley Hunt equates “community” to “kindness”. “Community is being kind to your neighbor, your coworker, your family, yourself, a stranger. Community is sharing stories and becoming a positive part of every person’s story that you meet. Is it great to have the winning team, and the nicest gardens and the best events? Of course. But if we don’t take care of each other, I don’t think we have much of anything.”
Shelley is the cofounder of the “because I can project”, a non-profit project dedicated to raising awareness about the need for organ donation and to improve how the organ donation system in Canada operates. By choosing to operate their project as a non-profit which does not raise money, Shelley has been able to demonstrate what you can accomplish purely out of “passion and compassion” for the cause.
Since the project started in early 2012, organ donation rates in the province of BC alone increased by 2%. Prior to this organ donation rates had been sitting stagnant since 2006. This increase represents hundreds of thousands of people who newly registered as organ donors.
Operating with zero funding has been both a challenge and an inspiration to Shelley. The project’s website, was single-handedly designed by her and incorporates a creative mix of videos, personal stories and design elements to raise awareness for the project’s cause. This selfless dedication in turn has inspired production companies in the area who believe in the cause to contribute their services pro-bono to produce a documentary on the project has led to features on MSN.ca and in various news outlets including CTV, Global and CHEK TV. Shelley has also successfully built relationships with major organ donor organizations such as the David Foster Foundation and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Shelley became involved in the cause when she learned that “People are dying needlessly. This is a problem of which we can collectively be part of a solution.” Believing she could help make a significant difference, Shelley not only works tirelessly to promote awareness via her project, but recently learned that she has been accepted to become a living kidney donor to a 5-year old boy named Aidyn. She describes this decision as “an incredible journey, and I am beyond excited to give someone the gift of life.”
Despite her dedication to the cause, telling the people who love her of her decision to be a living donor was nonetheless a difficult process. “They were afraid for me, and honestly, it was hard to navigate through those emotions even though I knew what I needed and wanted to do.”
The combination of perseverance and selflessness Shelley displays has allowed her to lead by example and make significant progress towards her goals of “a future in Canada when there is no longer a wait for a transplant.”
For more information on the Penticton Top 40 Under 40, including how to nominate someone click here.