Remembrance Day has always had special meaning for Mike. Both his father and his step-dad were members of the Polish military and fought alongside the Allied forces during the Second World War.
Remembrance Day was even more meaningful than usual for Mike this year. In September he officially became a member of the Royal Canadian Legion during a swearing-in ceremony at his local branch, General Sam Steele No. 117 on Salter Street. He also volunteered his time as part of this year’s Legion Poppy Campaign, which provides support to active and retired Canadian veterans.
Mike has been supported by Epic Opportunities for more than 22 years. One of the constants during that time has been his interest in the military and his support for Canadian troops. Two of his favourite activities are visiting military museums and spending time at his local Legion branch.
Coordinator Sarah Wake says this interest has gone a long way in helping Mike to reconnect with his late father and step-father and their military pasts.
“Mike has always taken the military and its traditions very seriously. It’s sort of always been part of who he is,” she says.
“When he joined the Legion in September it was a very big deal for him. It was one of the bigger moments in his life.”
Another proud moment for Mike was taking part in the Memorial Day parade organized by his local Legion branch this past August. The annual event featured numerous floats, Legion members and military personnel winding their way through the city’s North End to commemorate the brave efforts of veterans, and in particular those who participated in the First World War.
When he’s not marching in support of his local Legion branch, Mike can often be found there playing darts or attending weekly dances.
“It feels like home,” he says proudly.
Staff at Sir Sam Steele has gone out of their way to make it feel that way for Mike. They all know him by name and recently posted some vintage military postcards he donated to the branch in its beverage room.
Alicia Cooper, a disability support worker who has worked with Mike for the past year, says his enthusiastic support of the Legion and the military is an integral part of who he is.
“It matters to him to serve other people and it really matters to him when other people put their lives on the line. He really, really respects them,” she says.
In addition to his interest in the military, those who know Mike say he has a strong desire to give back to his community. He used to walk from his home to The Forks where he volunteered at the Children’s Museum. He was also the founder of Broomstick Janitorial, an enterprise that provided cleaning services to a handful of local churches.