2016 IW Winners

Influential Community Trailblazer - New Liskeard

Sharron Graydon

Sharron Graydon

If there’s a successful event happening in New Liskeard, there’s a good chance Sharron Graydon is the mastermind behind it.

Described by friends and supporters as warm, genuine and selfless, Graydon channels her goodwill and boundless energy into helping her community, one project at a time.

“I’ve been so blessed through my life that I really like to give back, and I like to give back to my community, or whoever needs help with anything, really,” she said.

“I love what I do, I love being busy, and I love giving back.”

The list of projects with which Graydon has been involved is endless: she directed efforts to raise $2.3 million to purchase a CAT Scan for the local hospital. She’s chaired the New Liskeard Recreation Committee. She directed the organizational committee for the Ontario Games for the Physically Disabled. She heads up the fall fair’s annual Harvest Queen pageant, and remains active in the New Liskeard Figure Skating Club.

There hasn’t been a fundraising activity she hasn’t embraced: bingos, rodeos, concerts, galas, dog sled races, barbecues, fashion shows, power boat races, auctions, and draws. She’s done them all, and all to raise thousands of dollars that are reinvested to benefit the community.

Particularly close to her heart is the annual fall fair, where she brought back the popular Kids’ Day Parade after it was absent for many years.

“At the fall fair, when you see 2,700 children coming down over the bridge, marching in that Kids’ Day Parade, that’s just the most amazing feeling,” she said. “The kids so love it.”

But Graydon is humble about her role in these achievements, shifting the focus to the helpers around her.

“When you’re all a team and have the support of the community, then we’ll leave everywhere a better place, because we have surrounded ourselves with wonderful people and achieve wonderful things.”

Her presence in New Liskeard was fortuitous. Graydon was just three months old when her Canadian-born parents moved the family back to their home country from Elkhart, Ind. She’s now spent the bulk of her life in the Temiskaming-area town where she met her husband, Peter.

He was a football player; she was a cheerleader: “We fell madly in love and we got married,” Graydon said.

The pair first volunteered, together, teaching a teen group at the United Church, and shortly after, Sharron joined the United Church Women. When Peter became a volunteer firefighter, Sharron enlisted in the Ladies’ Auxiliary.

Sharron had caught the philanthropy bug, and her early experiences with helping others set a path for lifelong volunteerism.

It was during a brief stint in Timmins that Graydon began working for the local McDonald’s, which was owned by their next-door neighbours. She so loved her role as customer relations representative, she and Peter decided to open their own franchise.

Thirty-seven years later, the New Liskeard McDonald’s restaurant remains a bustling eatery, for locals and travellers alike, where Sharron and Peter use their influence as franchisees to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses in Ottawa and Toronto.

Graydon believes everyone has something to contribute and shouldn’t be fearful to get started on their own path of altruism.

Start small, she advised: coach your child’s baseball team or pass the collection plate at church. Every little bit helps. It will be appreciated by the community around you, and you’ll get so much back in return. “You really make a place what you want to make of it,” Graydon said. “You become part of it, and then you love it.”

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