The Canadian advertising industry is rallying around NABSDay today (Oct. 16) to help support its members in need.
NABSDay is an initiative of the National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS). The 34-year-old organization is set up to provide assistance to people in the marketing and communications industries who may need help due to illness, injury, unemployment or financial difficulties. Last year NABS provided assistance to 3,000 of its members and their families.
The organization used NABSDay to share a live streamed discussion with Peter Vaz, who until recently was vice president, director channel engagement at McCann Canada. Vaz was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, this past February. The terminal disease has a life expectancy of 50 percent three years after diagnosis and 25 percent five years out.
During the live event Vaz explained what he had been through and how NABS had been supporting him.
"I remember I couldn't walk in a straight line," said Vaz, recalling when he first experienced ALS symptoms, a disease that gradually leaves people paralyzed. "I went to the doctors and they sent me home the first time. And then the next time I had to go through a bunch of tests and they said 'one of the things we're looking at is an auto-immune disease' and I was like, 'what's that?'
"What I learned was not pleasant.
"It's not easy because your mind is fine, your senses are fine, but your body isn't, your muscles don't listen to your brain. Things you would normally do you need help to do that."
Vaz, who appears in the video in a wheelchair, received help from NABS to install a ramp on his property as well as to make other accessibility-related renovations.
"Having that support system is very, very helpful," he said of NABS.
Having worked at McCann Canada for 23 years, Vaz says he wants to make the most of his time these days.
"Once I got over the shock (of my diagnosis) I realized I could have got hit by a bus and been gone in a day," says Vaz. "That could have happened, but here I have the chance to live another day and do the best I can and this is my way to feel I can give back. I want to live every day I have left to my fullest in my new ability."
While the general NABSDay focus was to raise awareness and funds from those in the advertising industry, David Leonard, the CEO of McCann Canada, had a specific challenge for his peers.
"Here at McCann we're going to match every employee's donation and we encourage every organization out there to please do the same," said Leonard in the video.
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