Men We Admire
Welcome to our annual look at men whom we admire; for their passions, determination, dedication and their sense of honour. From dads with the right work-life balance to young men with aspirations of Olympic glory, we salute the men of Airdrie.
Scott Chalupiak, a runner with record-breaking motivation
“I want to be the first 800 (metre) runner to run under 1:40.”
Scott Chalupiak says that his goal might appear farfetched, considering his age, but he’s OK with that. The current record is 1:40.91, held by a Kenyan, but Chalupiak (who has already broken one record, provincial midget men’s steeplechase) believes he can best that – in time.
At 16, he’s already running at world levels, and at the Canadian youth level is currently first in 800 metres, as well as in 400-m hurdles, which he only recently took up.
Coached by his mother, also a runner and cofounder of Airdrie Aces Athletics Club, Chalupiak’s first race was at the age of nine. It just grew from there, he explains.
“Winning was always fun,” he says, “so I figured I’d keep with it.”
The balance between school and training can be a challenge, but at the end of the day, Chalupiak says, the sport is something he loves.
“Ultimately, I’d like to one day look at the world record list for track and field, and see my name there,” he says.
Colton Clarke, a luger with his heart set on the Olympics
This 14-year-old student from École Airdrie Middle School loves the adrenalin rush he gets from blazing down a luge track faster than most highway speed limits.
Colton Clarke was hooked the moment his parents let him try a run at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park when he was 10.
“I really enjoyed it and decided I would stick with it,” he says modestly, but Clarke is passionate about his sport.
He’s been competing for two years, most notably in Germany last January for the Canadian national junior luge team. He hopes to qualify for the team again this fall.
Despite a gruelling training schedule, Clarke manages to maintain good grades. “School comes pretty naturally to me,” he says.
He doesn’t have much free time, but it’s worth it. “It’s a really neat experience,” he says. “Not a lot of people get to try this sport.”
Clarke’s future plans? For now, he’s focused on making the national team again and then, “eventually the Olympics.”
Paul Hachey, a pioneering judoka for children
Paul Hachey took his first judo class at the age of five with his father as his sensei; it was a pivotal moment.
Hachey went on to become a member of the Canadian National Team, a Team Alberta coach and a fifth-degree black belt, and he brings all this experience to the Airdrie Judo Club.
“I’ve been in (judo) for many, many years. It kind of becomes a part of you,” says the sensei.
His greatest achievement thus far has been the pre-judo program he started a dozen years ago. Children younger than seven have a difficult time with a program, but Hachey didn’t like turning interested children away. So, he pioneered a program for four- to six-year-olds. “When it first started, it was immensely popular,” he says.
Once a week, up to 12 children learn basic judo skills and something more profound.
“We’re not just building judoka,” says Hachey, “we’re building good citizens [who] will contribute back to the community in a positive way.”
Julian Kyne, an Airdrie doctor with a prescription for health care
Dr. Julian Kyne has been a longtime advocate for 24-hour health care in Airdrie, but he’s not one to boast.
“I don’t want the story to be about me, I want it to be about Airdrie and its frustration in not getting the kind of care it deserves,” Kyne says.
But the story has occasionally been about him. In November 2015, Alberta Health Services (AHS) notified Kyne that his position as the medical director of the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre would not be renewed – a move the community saw as an attack on Kyne’s lobbying efforts with the Airdrie Health Foundation.
But Kyne has not been deterred from continuing his efforts.
“The community really is behind this,” he says, “saying, ‘We need proper health care, and we’re willing to do our bit.’
“It’s worth doing and I’m hopeful it’ll happen,” adds the doctor.
Mark MacEachen, from house painter to fashion model
Mark MacEachen laughs about his dramatic career change.
Born and raised in Airdrie, MacEachen went from painting houses to modelling in such iconic locations as New York, London and Milan for fashion giant Calvin Klein.
“My mom got me into it,” he says, adding that she would ask, “Well, Mark, do you think you should be a model?” And he would answer, “No, not really.”
“If you have something you want to pursue, even if it’s something that you might feel is different from what’s ordinary … do it, and do it with passion.”
But a little more than a year ago, at age 21, MacEachen let his mother take him to an agent in Calgary. He was immediately signed and has no regrets.
“It’s a weird industry, but it’s kind of fun,” he says. “I get to travel all over the world for work.”
MacEachen, who now lives in New York City, offers this advice: “If you have something you want to pursue, even if it’s something that you might feel is different from what’s ordinary, just go ahead and go for it,” he says. “Do it, and do it with passion.”
Jay Raymundo, NRG-ized father and fitness trainer
Jay Raymundo has a simple philosophy: at the end of his life, he should be able to say he spent his time where it mattered, with his family.
Raymundo and his wife, Gwen, a vice-principal with the Catholic school board, have a daughter, Emma, 8, and identical twin sons, Jax and Ethan, 4.
“I make sure that they’re the priority,” he says.
His father, who never missed his soccer games when he was growing up, inspired this dedication to family.
But Raymundo is also a canfitpro certified specialist in personal training, a motivational speaker and the owner of his own company, NRG Fitness.
His clients range from young hockey players to grandmothers, from Canadian Tire to FGL Sports, a large Calgary-based sporting goods retailer.
The demands on his time are challenging, but Raymundo stays focused on his children.
“I want to take advantage of these years,” he says, “because right now, I’m their best friend.”
Blake Richards, different seat, same MP
Blake Richards, Conservative MP for Banff-Airdrie, may be sitting in Opposition now, but his commitment to his constituents hasn’t changed.
“I’ve been really fortunate to represent such a great bunch of people. It’s a real honour,” Richards says.
The role of Opposition in Parliament is a more critical one, “but you’re still able to have an impact,” he says.
The most satisfying part of the MP’s work is collaborating with people who are passionate about bringing real change to their community and country.
“For me, to be able to work with people who want to make a difference … what an amazing privilege that is,” he says.
One instance, when the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riots occurred, Richards and a colleague decided to prepare legislation that would protect people, businesses and property from damage that happens during such an event.
“You see there’s a problem, and you can actually take action and make it right,” Richards says. “That is the job. It’s to make a difference for people.”
Christopher Taylor, changing lives one cadet at a time
Capt. Christopher Taylor, of the 3016 Airdrie Royal Canadian Army Cadets, was recently given the 2015 Honour Officer for the Southern Zone award for exemplary work with cadets.
It’s an achievement he credits to his childhood. “Growing up, I was the devil’s angel,” Taylor says. “I wasn’t one of the better kids in the neighbourhood.”
As an adult, he worked with Scouts Canada, but when one of his children joined the cadets, Taylor volunteered as a Cadet Instructors Cadre officer. He had served for several years with the Canadian army, so the fit was perfect.
Taylor has been with the 3016 for 11 years now, teaching young people leadership skills.
“Many of the kids just start to live and breathe it,” he says. “It’s quite amazing; by their second year they’re getting involved in biathlon, shooting teams and band.”
This fall he will take over as the 3016 commander.
“I’m excited about that,” Taylor says. “It’s another way to make a difference in these kids’ lives.”
Matt Turner, a teacher with eco-minded students
Matt Turner’s pride in his Grade 4 Nose Creek Elementary School class is evident as he talks about the Airdrie Eco Youth Award his students received this past January for their organic recycling initiative.
Turner says that he was simply the facilitator, and that the initiative was his students’ idea. “It was all them,” he says. “I asked what could we do to help the environment … and they came up with this.”
The plan involved placing organic bins in every classroom, for which his students would then be responsible.
“And they love it,” he says. “They go out and change the bags every week.”
When the opportunity for the award arose, the students came up with the idea to apply by creating fake news broadcasts. “Clips like, ‘Student slips on banana peel because someone wasn’t using the organics bin,’” Turner laughs.
As recognition for their award, sponsored by FortisAlberta, Mayor Peter Brown presented the class with a certificate and $300, which was earmarked for a field trip to Olds College to show how organics are transformed into usable soil.
“They’re super stoked about that,” Turner says.
Kyran Weemaels, a young man with an out-of-the-ballpark future
Kyran Weemaels, 18, says that he misses his family in Airdrie, but he’s following the dream his arm is forging for him.
Weemaels is a freshman and a relief pitcher with a full scholarship to study chemical engineering at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky.
This is just the latest move in Weemaels’ career. He’s played baseball in Airdrie, Strathmore, and with the Calgary Dinos and Cubs, and now with the Brescia Bearcats.
“I was always a younger pitcher,” he says. “When I was 16, I was playing with 18-year-olds.”
Weemaels credits his mother with his success. “My mom is my big inspiration,” he says of his mother, who had a difficult childhood, but became a national volleyball player in Belgium. “She pushes me, and gives me so many options. I look up to her every day.”
What advice does the athlete have for people his age?
“Don’t give up, and don’t do the least that you can do,” Weemaels says.