The Cushway’s world tipped upside down in a matter of seconds when young Braydon was diagnosed with clear cell sarcoma at the age of one. At two years of age, Braydon was given a short life expectancy, and the Cushway’s were quickly connected with the Children’s Wish Foundation (CWF) in Saskatchewan, an organization that grants wishes to very sick children. Jeff Cushway, who had yet to join CP, would soon find out it was through a CP employee-driven, recycling program in Saskatchewan, that his son’s wish – a tent trailer to go camping with his mom and dad – was granted.
CP’s Saskatchewan recycling program started in 2002 when an employee was injured on the job by stepping on a bottle and twisting his ankle. Wanting to go beyond issuing a standard bulletin, Scott Sutherland, then Superintendent Saskatchewan, along with now retired Superintendent Mechanical Jim Woodrow, and Jim Goodmundson, Train and Engine Health and Safety Co-Chair, set out to find a creative solution and corrective action for discarding bottles.
Recycling fit the bill; but they knew they needed buy-in and participation from employees. To encourage this, they opted to support local not-for-profit groups, adding CWF to that list in 2004. It didn’t take long for employees to jump on board and stop carelessly leaving empty cans or bottles lying around. That first year, Saskatchewan employees proudly gave a cheque of $5,000 to the CWF. By 2009, the committee decided to partner solely with CWF and their donation rose to $16,000.
Director Gay Anderson of CWF, describes the working relationship with CP as a true partnership.
“CP is one of our pillar partnerships and a valued relationship that we use to demonstrate best practices.” Gay has been with the program six years and takes every opportunity to share CP’s generosity with external audiences. By the time Jeff joined CP, he was impressed that the company would do something like this.
“CWF is unbelievable,” said Jeff. “They take care of everything for the family, so the family can just be together. They are an amazing organization, who relies on individuals and companies, like CP, to help them.”
While Braydon was undergoing his final treatments, the Cushway’s had their second child, another boy, who was born with a deformed heart and heart defect. Seven years later, the Cushway’s found themselves in an eerily similar situation as young Riley had heart bypass surgery to replace a valve.
Once again, through the generosity of Saskatchewan employees and the Saskatchewan CWF, their second son Riley was granted his wish. The family was whisked away to Florida and the Give Kids the World resort. Both Braydon, now 13, and Riley, now 10, beat the odds and are active, thriving young boys.
To date, Saskatchewan employees have donated 2.3 million bottles, totaling $230,000 or 23 wishes. Laid end to end, that’s 218 miles of bottles and they are not done yet. Gabrielle Belanger, Supervisor Support Services, now heads up the program and she continues to see the generosity of employees. Every couple of weeks Gabrielle and conductor Sean Arnold can be found in the basement of the Moose Jaw Yard office meticulously going through dozens of bags and sorting every bottle.
“It would be a thankless job except for the awareness that each bottle is another dime closer to realizing a dream come true.”
“Without our employees contributing to this program by dropping their bottles into the bins, I would have nothing to sort,” said Gabrielle. “It would be a thankless job except for the awareness that each bottle is another dime closer to realizing a dream come true.”
When you understand what is really at stake, sifting through bags isn’t just another day at the office.