Ace Burpee's Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans for 2015: Part 4
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38: Ashley Wilwand: Competing in the sport of rhythmic gymnastics for almost a decade, Ashley is now in her prime. This past July, she returned to Winnipeg with five medals, all earned against the best on the planet at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
37: Austin Coombes: Unrelenting in his support of Resource Assistance for Youth and Cystic Fibrosis Canada in both a fundraising and awareness capacity, Austin has that rare ability to rally others to a cause. He uses his platform and influence for good. Love his hustle.
36: Kal Barteski: You've likely seen Kal's script, along with her inspiring messages, pop up in your feed somewhere online. She's a got a unique gift, along with a deep love and appreciation for polar bears and wildlife conservation. She's contributed her talents to countless charities both locally and internationally, has captured the attention of Animal Planet/Discovery, is a TedEX speaker, a Women Entrepreneur of the Year award winner, and just an excellent person.
35 & 34: Regan Hirose and Harold Rancano: I was hosting the Folkorama kick-off at The Forks in August and Harold and Regan danced some salsa for us. They were incredible. Like, really incredible. I assumed they had been flown in to Winnipeg specifically for the one week Cuban pavilion run. Nope. They're Winnipeggers, and they are ranked in the TOP TEN IN THE WORLD in both salsa and bachata cabaret dance. They are also the directors of the Cubanisimo Dance Company.
33 & 32: Nazdar and Zainab Hilo: The sisters grew up in Iraq but were forced from the country through Syria, eventually landing in Winnipeg as refugees five years ago. As children, they used to play soccer in secret, as girls were not allowed to play in Iraq. Nazdar and Zainab are both still playing soccer, and after their story caught the attention of the host committee, they were chosen as official flag bearers for the FIFA Women's World Cup.
31: Baxter Humby: One of the biggest top 40 hits of the year was that song you first heard in the Jeep commercial. It's "Renegades" by X Ambassadors. One morning while the song was playing on the radio, somebody sent me a text to tell me the fighter with one hand in the video for the song is from Winnipeg. So I look into this Baxter Humby dude, and he is the definition of fascinating. He should be on this list years ago. He's captured multiple world titles in Muay Thai, and kickboxing... with one hand. His right arm was amputated just below the elbow at birth after becoming tangled with the umbilical cord. Oh, and he was Tobey Maguire's stunt double in Spider-Man 3. The dude is awesome. Forget being a stunt double, they should make a movie about him.
30: Getty Stewart: She's so cool. She's a professional home economist, food speaker and writer, an engine for Fruit Share Manitoba, an advocate against food waste, and does it all in an accessible way that people can easily learn from. She knows and lives what she speaks.
29: John Donovan: I've always had a fascination with Thompson, Manitoba. There are some really great people who call it home. Mr. Donovan is one of them. An amazing asset to Thompson, he spent 26 years as a councillor at RD Parker Collegiate and created some legacy programs such as Students Offering Support, the Adolescence Health Centre and off-campus classrooms. He then changed paths and dedicated himself to improving addiction services in the North. He oversaw construction of a new treatment facility and established Withdrawal Management services, he served on the Thompson Homeless Shelter board, supported Mino-Ska-Nah-Wey-Tahk... and this year received The Order of Thompson.
28: Betty Calderon-Villasenor: The BMC Market & Taqueria on South Osborne is that place that we all like to think is our secret little gem that isn’t really a secret anymore. Real tacos. Betty, from Morelia, Mexico, owns the place and does all the cooking with husband Rigoberto. The taco recipes are all her Grandma’s. They’re legit, both the people and the product.
27 - 25: Dennis Drewnik, Dr. Mark Belmonte, Ian Girard: Dennis is one of the brightest young scientific minds in the country. A student at Sisler, he's developed potentially game-changing breakthroughs in identifying plant defense response genes that could a major boon to Canada's canola industry. He won awards this year at the Canada Wide Science Fair, and represented Manitoba at Sanofi Biogenius Canada, a prestigious national science research competition. None of this comes without proper guidance and mentoring, which Dennis has received from Dr. Mark Belmonte and Ian Girard, both who are with the Faculty of Science at the U of M. These are smart people.
24: Abigail Pniowsky: There's a movie coming out next year called Story of Your Life, and it stars Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Amy Adams. Nine year-old Abigail will play the daughter of the Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe winning Adams, who is the lead in the film.
23: Elsaida Alerta: She first discovered a love for karaoke on a family trip to the Phillipines when she was 16. This year, after successfully qualifying at the Pony Corral, she flew from Winnipeg to Singapore and came back the World Karaoke Champion.
22 - 20: Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Quesnel and Michelle Anderson: They are Sweet Alibi, and they make tremendous music. They've already received a Western Canadian Music Award for Roots Group of the Year, and have just dropped their new album, Walking in the Dark. Check out the first single, "Keep Showing You", then buy the entire thing.
19: Emily Christie: Falcon Trails Resort and Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes do some really cool things year round out at Falcon Lake. Emily does all the marketing and promotions, and has created a really cool culture around a really cool place. She's also a photographer, capturing the beauty of the Whiteshell as well as anyone has ever.