The room, which had been buzzing with excitement and anticipation, came to a hush after the emcee announced that the program was about to begin. From where Doug and I were sitting, we could clearly see a rapt Tyler Reid settled among his peers in the special area designated for award recipients. Not too far from us, his parents and grandparents were in the audience quietly applauding him with glances that sparkled with pride and love.
On this beautiful Thursday evening of May 28, 2015, Tyler was among 25 Surrey youths who would take home an award for the significant achievements they had already attained in their young lives. For 18-year old Tyler, the event represented an important juncture where he would be recognized for his personal leadership, business acumen and community involvement.
What makes Tyler Reid an exceptional young man worthy of such an award? Is it the fact that he started a business at age 14 and immediately discovered the importance of making a difference in his community? Or is it because he was born with certain attributes that contribute to his drive to conquer obstacles? Is it his alluring charm and personality? Or is it the culmination of the experiences and struggles inherent to living with a moderate learning disability? You can draw your own conclusions, but I suspect that all these elements combined with growing up in a supportive and loving family collaborated to make Tyler simply Tyler, a young man standing out from the crowd.
Tyler is the founder of Tyler’s Firewood Company, a vibrant and viable business which is in its fifth year of operations. Tyler has developed his company by using good business acumen and strategic direction. His business philosophy includes taking care of the environment and being socially responsible while generating a good income. He gives back to the community by generously donating a part of his profits to Semiahmoo House Society.
Tyler, who has a moderate learning disability, has struggled to fit in at school and has been the victim of bullying. In spite of these challenges, his elementary school Vice-Principal testifies that he has excelled beyond expectations. His tenacity, work ethic and entrepreneurship are reflected in the success of his business and his philanthropic activities.
At Semiahmoo House Society, we first met Tyler through his participation in the Recreation and Leisure programs. Lindsay Green, Manager of Recreation and Leisure Services, reports that he is an inspiration to others with disabilities. She says, “Tyler is always kind and patient with his peers; he listens intently to them and helps them to communicate with others by prompting them or interpreting their methods of communication.” Tyler also likes to help the staff. While enjoying activities with his friends, he is known to pick up a broom now and then and sweep up a messy floor.
His father, Kevin, says: “Tyler’s moderate learning disability has become his strength and not his weakness. He has learned not to be affected by pointing, laughing or bullying. He has learned passion, perseverance, determination and love… the love of all things good, especially wood collecting.”
Tyler, you’re a winner! Congratulations for taking home this well-deserved award. Thank you for your leadership in the community and bringing it together with your inspirational story.
Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. The Semiahmoo Foundation exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.
By Louise Tremblay, The Semiahmoo Foundation