Queen's University in Kingston is the centre of Braeden Whitehead’s universe but Uxbridge will always be home – as close to his heart as his friendship with Cam Hicks.
“A big bear, a big friendly guy” is how Braeden remembers Cam, adding “his smile, his laugh” remain as fresh in his mind as they were when he and Cam attended Uxbridge High School and worked side-by-side at Wooden Sticks golf course.
“All the guys here (in Uxbridge) are mutual friends of Cam’s. He was the glue; he brought all the guys together. Afterwards, the guys basically became inseparable. And we had a ton of support from the Hicks. They wanted to ensure we were OK. That was humbling.”
Braeden’s involvement with Cam’s Kids started innocently enough. Already doing orientation and training development for Brookfield GIS, he was approached by Cam’s brother Andrew who asked him to take on the task of onboarding Cam’s Kids Ambassadors. Braeden said yes and hasn’t looked back, his admiration for, and appreciation of, the foundation’s work growing daily.
“It’s a way to remember who Cam was and hopefully ensure somebody in his position growing up doesn’t go through the same thing.”
“You see a lot of organizations that focus on mental health, which is fantastic, but I think it’s very important to have an organization that focuses strictly on anxiety or aspects of it. Certain things that fall under mental health could get lost in the shuffle or might not be highlighted as much because the focus is on such a broad range of topics. When focusing strictly on anxiety, which a lot of students go through in high school or university with so much change, it’s important to have resources available for them.”
Braeden’s role with Cam’s Kids sees him interview every prospective Ambassador. To date, there are some 70.
‘It’s cool to see who’s taking the initiative and pushing it out there to make the organization grow. I’m meeting these people through FaceTime or Skype interviews after reading their application and then I’m seeing some of the initiatives they’re undertaking. Kids, on their own without a group, have got Cam’s Kids’ name out to their entire school.”
Always in the back of Braedon’s mind, anchoring his purpose, is his friend Cam.
“I think he’d be proud that we created something that is helping people. I know he’d be incredibly proud of his brothers; incredibly proud of his parents for being so supportive of his friends. He’s somebody that should have had a life that lasted a lot longer. It’s tough when you think ‘What if he was still here?’ You try not to think of that too much.”