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Our Committee

We are pleased to work with such a talented and committed group of volunteers to create the theme and story of our 2019 Midsummer’s Eve Cocktail Soiree.

And, with pretty incredible stories of their own to share, please meet our Midsummer’s Leadership Team:

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CHAIR

Cheryl MacKinnon

Cheryl MacKinnon is a name known around BC for her hot travel tips on Great Getaways with Cheryl. As a media personality, she is an incredibly talented marketer, an inspiring presence and a supportive mentor. And, her motivation to support Diabetes Canada? It’s all in the family: her adult daughter Chelsey has lived with type 1 diabetes for the past 20 years.

 

 
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MEMBER

Neli Avila

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012 at the age of 46. In 2015, I joined Team Diabetes and ran my first full marathon in Portugal, my country of birth! My team name is MAD Dashers – “Making a Difference for Diabetes”.  We are currently planning our first annual diabetes run/walk in my local community for April 2019. Diabetes changed my life for the better.  It gave me a focus and purpose to make a difference for 11 million people affected!

 
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MEMBER

Michaela Cunningham

I was born in Vancouver to an Irish family. On an extended visit to Ireland (age 11), we discovered I had type 1 after quite a delayed diagnosis in the spring of 1995. That upcoming Summer changed my life in many ways. I like to see the silver lining that living with diabetes can bring – it encourages discipline, organization and focus! In addition, I have met so many wonderful people through diabetes. I have developed a passion for improving the quality of life for those living with diabetes and their families. I recently started a position as Development Coordinator with Diabetes Canada and I’m excited to work with the team. In my spare time I perform and teach Irish music and also love to get into the great outdoors.

 
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MEMBER

Jeannie Scott-Mason

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11, then two years later my younger brother (age 2) was also diagnosed.  It was an extremely difficult time for my family, but we got through the rough time and found a new “normal”.  I grew up in a suburb of Montreal and moved to B.C. in 1993.  I got involved with Diabetes Canada around 10 years ago, after the heartbreaking loss of my brother (age 42) to complications of his diabetes in 2008.  The memory of losing him is still fresh today, but volunteering my time and helping others maintain a healthy life and manage their diabetes is what propels me to be involved with Diabetes Canada. I’ve had tough challenges, one of the biggest was recovering from a triple heart bypass in 2000, but I remain positive, motivated and eager to help others in any way I can!

 

 
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MEMBER

Kasey McCandless

I am a teacher, artist, athlete, and living with type 1 diabetes in Vancouver!  I have a passion for planning and making a difference, so being part of the Midsummer’s Eve committee and working with Diabetes Canada is a perfect fit!

 

 
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MEMBER

Thyra McKilligan

I am the mother of two wonderful daughters, Katie 31 and Anna 28. The three of us were members of Girl Guides of Canada for 9 years, and as Camp Leader, I saw first hand what wonderful memories young people have, of their camp experiences. Katie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as she graduated from University, a life changing event. Today Katie continues to be a strong athlete, including running the Chicago Marathon, an advocate for children with diabetes, and a mentor for good nutrition among young people through community programs. Katie, Anna and I all believe every child should have the joy of camp. I am excited to be a part of Midsummer’s Eve to make sure of this!

 

 
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MEMBER

Nafisa Merali

As the founder of Naz Wellness Pharmacy Group I fully believe in life-long education and providing the best possible care for my patients. At Naz Pharmacies we go beyond the call of duty in our mission to educate patients and empower them to manage their own health. We are committed to community outreach programs, bringing clinical services to community centers, temples and seniors homes.

I have received awards and recognitions from the BC Pharmacy Association and other organizations, and last year, received the Charles H. Best Award from Diabetes Canada, which recognizes health-care professionals who have made a significant difference towards improving the quality of life of individuals living with diabetes. I strongly believe in giving back to the communities we live in and contributing to a better quality of life and I am so looking forward to working on the Midsummer’s Eve event to continue making a difference!

 
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MEMBER

Erin Miller

I currently volunteer at Diabetes Canada with the Food Skills Team. I was affected by diabetes in 2014 when my son Kaden was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 20 months old. This was shocking and life-changing. The burden of diabetes is significant, constant and difficult especially for little kids. While attending Diabetes Canada family camp we realized this burden is so similar for all type 1 kids and families. It was an incredible experience to talk and relate to people who have the same daily challenges and concerns as us. Kaden especially enjoyed seeing other kids doing blood checks and taking insulin at mealtimes – just like him. Camp was such a great experience with wonderful memories. We look forward to sending Kaden to camp again very soon! 

 

 
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MEMBER

Dahlia Swerdloff

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997 just after coming down with the chicken pox.  I was 18 and a freshman in college at the University of Vermont.  I have two children, born in 2005 and 2007.  I lived with my family in and around NYC for 14 years.  In 2011, I ran the NYC marathon with the JDRF team.  It was an amazing experience for me in so many ways!  I started volunteering with JDRF in NY and helped them put on their Gala for many years.  In January 2016, we moved to Whistler for a change of pace and to enjoy the outdoors.  I love to ski, hike, CrossFit, cook, and socialize with family and friends.  This past May, my 13 year old daughter, Riley, was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  She went to Camp Kakhamela for 2 weeks, and I am confident that being there with her peers helped her move forward and gain the confidence she needed.

 
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MEMBER

Kirstie McRae

I moved to Vancouver from Scotland over 2 years ago and started working as Development Coordinator with Diabetes Canada soon after arriving. I’ve worked for a few charities throughout my travels, but was particularly drawn to Diabetes Canada because of the outstanding work they do to positively impact the 11 million Canadians affected by diabetes. As a youngster my family and I were involved with a local Edinburgh charity who supported children living with leukemia and their families.  I was diagnosed with leukemia age 5, but after treatment went into remission and to date have been healthy. The positive impact the charity had on my family has stuck with me - that’s why Diabetes Canada and D-Camps holds a particularly special place in my heart, and I’m so thankful to be leading this event to raise valuable funds to help those families who need it most!