Meet the Young Guns
These supporters didn’t wait to accumulate a lifetime of experience or wealth before leaping in to support others. Their youth is an inspiring reminder that compassionate action knows no bounds.
On his ninth birthday, Cade Morey invited a dozen friends out for Nerf wars and cake — pretty typical Grade 4 fare, but with one quite atypical caveat: he kindly asked his friends to not buy him gifts. Instead, Cade requested that anything they might have spent on his special day was instead directed to a fundraiser he had going. “I wanted to raise money for cancer research because my poppa is sick,” said Cade, now 11.
Cade's poppa — what he calls his grandfather, Terry Morey — was diagnosed in 2013 with Stage 4 lung cancer. While it’s been a tough few years for Terry, he eventually qualified as a candidate for genetic biomarkers — making him eligible for precision medicine treatment. An emerging field (and an Energize campaign priority area), a precision medicine approach means that doctors can use an individual’s genetic information to more accurately strategize disease treatment. Terry has had success with various targeted drugs; his CT scans have shown some regression in his tumours. Cade, who managed to raise more than $400 for the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine, says he felt good knowing he was contributing to beneficial research. “I want my poppa to stay with us for a long time.”
Safia and Nabeela Nathoo
As part of the Ismaili community, sisters and UCalgary alumnae Safia and Nabeela Nathoo understood the importance of philanthropy from a young age. And, having benefited from it in the form of donor-funded scholarships during their time at UCalgary, they were inspired to pay it forward. “We were sitting at the dinner table one evening with our parents, talking about ways to give back, and the idea of creating a scholarship came to mind,” says Nabeela, BSc’09, PhD’14, MD’17. “We wanted to create a legacy to reward students for excellence in academics, as well as in pursuit of extracurricular activities, as we had both aimed to do during our time at UCalgary.”
From that dinner-table conversation came the Nathoo Family Graduate Scholarship, a $2,000 award given annually to a student who is registered in a thesis-based program in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “Graduate studies at UCalgary had a big impact on both our professional and personal lives and we thought, what better way to give back than to create a scholarship for graduate students?” says Safia, BSc’07, MSc’09, MBA’14.
While the sisters have long participated in global philanthropy efforts, primarily focused on poverty-stricken regions, this was their first major contribution to an organization with which they had a direct connection. Adds Safia, “This experience helped us to recognize that we can play a bigger role in creating philanthropy awareness and encouraging others like us to find ways to give back.”
He’s been that guy since he was an undergraduate in the Haskayne School of Business: smart, driven, generous, and seemingly able to access several more than 24 hours in any given day. A tech and innovation success story long before he turned 30, Mark Blackwell, BComm’11, credits the foundational skills and knowledge he acquired at UCalgary with his nimble turn from local investment manager to CEO of a Silicon Valley start-up.
Since returning to Calgary a few years ago, Blackwell has taken a leadership role in the city’s rapidly growing innovation ecosystem. In addition to serving as partner and Canadian office lead for Builders VS, a venture capital firm focused on modernizing traditional industries, and co-founder of Nucleus Calgary, a hub for the local entrepreneurial community, Mark is the board chair of the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, an associate with Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies, and a member of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking Advisory Board and the Faculty of Science Dean's Advisory Board.
His extraordinary achievements recently earned Mark the inaugural Haskayne School of Business Rising Star Award, which honours alumni who are taking giant strides in the first decade since graduating. Ever committed to his alma mater, Mark’s philanthropic efforts to support the Energize campaign — extraordinary outputs of both time, as a strategic campaign advisor, and treasure, as a legacy gift donor — further set him apart as a young gun with a heart of gold.
Alvin and Mona Libin Foundation
The Libin family is all heart. Their name has become synonymous with cardiovascular health care, education and research — and with philanthropy. In addition to establishing the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta with a $15-million foundational gift, the Alvin and Mona Libin Foundation has made possible the Libin Gene Therapy Unit, the Libin Lecture Theatre, the Alvin Libin Graduate Scholarship in Cardiovascular Research, the Alvin and Mona Libin Graduate Scholarship in Public Policy, and the Alvin and Mona Libin Scholarship in Medicine.
Continuing that legacy of giving is the next generation of Libin philanthropists, including granddaughter Eda Libin, BComm’12. “Philanthropy brought my family together and taught me so much about what is truly important in life. It’s helped me grow into the person that I am today,” says Eda. “My family loves Calgary, and we are dedicated to doing our part to ensure it continues to be a great place to live.”
Today, Eda serves as executive director and vice-president of the foundation, and she’s particularly passionate about engaging youth in philanthropy. “It’s important for younger generations to participate in philanthropic activities. It helps them develop into responsible and compassionate human beings who will grow into the visionary leaders we need for the future.” Indeed, Eda and the Libin family are a shining example of the power of multi-generational philanthropy.
Each gift to UCalgary comes with its own, unique story — the motivations behind them as diverse as the members of our philanthropic community. For Colton Lewis, BComm’15, it was a personal tragedy that moved him to create a scholarship in memory of his friend and classmate Brett Wiese. The two were students in the Haskayne School of Business in 2013 when Wiese’s life was tragically cut short at the age of 20, following a violent incident at a house party. While still recovering from injuries himself, sustained during the same attack that took Wiese’s life, Lewis established a scholarship to honour his friend and the values he espoused. “Brett was an incredible friend, family member and student,” says Lewis, who pitched the scholarship from his hospital bed to the school’s dean. “The goal in creating the scholarship was to ensure that his remarkable legacy would live forever at UCalgary.”
Today, the Brett Wiese Memorial Scholarship is funded by dozens of friends, family and community members — all people who share in Lewis’s vision to support Haskayne students who exemplify Wiese’s positive, ambitious and caring spirit. “Brett was very proud to be a student at the University of Calgary, as was I,” says Lewis. “Choosing to support the community that helped shape our future was a very natural decision.”
Luke Neilson, who graduated from the Faculty of Arts in 2019, could have been satisfied with achieving top marks in his undergraduate honours program. Instead, his success drove him to help other students strive with ambition for the same. “I very much enjoyed the honours program. I thought this award would encourage philosophy students to enroll and to continue researching their interests,” says Neilson. To that end, he set up a unique scholarship for the student with the most outstanding honours thesis submitted to the Department of Philosophy.
It’s a remarkable act of philanthropy for a young man who, at the time, was still working to complete his own degree. “I wanted to create something that was just about the purity of academic life — students in my program are here because they have something unique to say and no amount of financial trouble should deter them. I wanted to recognize that, and to help out.”