Giving back: National award for Acadia's Fairfax

John Decoste
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By John DeCoste

Alana Fairfax has been an active volunteer in her community for a long time, and the Acadia student-athlete has no plans to stop – or even slow down – anytime soon.

“I’ve gotten used to being busy,” she says. “Especially in season, I feel I’m more successful when I’m busy, and it helps me better manage my time.”

Earlier this month, Fairfax was the recipient of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Student-Athlete Community Service Award for women’s soccer, after having previously received the same award at the conference level.

It marked the second straight year an Acadia women’s soccer player had received both awards – Cathleen Bleakney, a former teammate and also a Kings County native, won the same two awards a year ago.

“It really does speak to the direction Acadia is taking with its student-athletes, allowing (and encouraging) us to be role models for younger students and in the community,” Fairfax said.

Even though volunteering and community service has almost become second nature to her, Fairfax, a third-year biology student at Acadia with hopes of becoming a doctor someday, admitted she was “surprised” to win the national award.

“It’s sunk in now, but I didn’t know I had won it before I went,” she said. The award was presented in Victoria, B.C., in conjunction with the CIS nationals.

“It’s a huge, huge honour, especially when you consider it’s for the whole country.”

Fairfax, who grew up in Somerset as the youngest of four accomplished sisters, credits her paternal grandfather, the late Rev. Dr. Donald Fairfax, for inspiring in her the commitment needed to volunteer as much as she does.

“My grandfather did a lot of community work, particularly in and for the African-Nova Scotian community. He’s always been an inspiration for me.”

And while being the youngest of four overachieving sisters was fun, she admits, “my sisters set the bar really high.

“There was never any real pressure to compete, but I always felt I had something to live up to. For example, I played both soccer and ringette because my sisters did.”

She has excelled at both sports, and is one of a select group of athletes to have competed at the Canada Games in both the summer and winter.

Volunteering is “a way of giving back to my community for all it’s given me,” she said.

“Once I got to high school, it began to hit me that all my coaches were volunteers, and that they were all willingly giving their time.”

Fairfax is a senior representative with the Acadia Players Association (APA) and is involved in a number of community service initiatives, including the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program and is co-chair of the Acadia Relay for Life campaign.

She coaches youth soccer, gives her time to help with the Acadia student-athlete literacy day, volunteers at the Wolfville Nursing Home and is actively involved with the newly-launched WITS anti-bullying program.

This past summer, Fairfax, along with 15 other Acadia students, travelled to Honduras as part of the Acadia Global Medical Brigade.

As part of the student-driven initiative, she and her fellow students helped supply local residents with medical supplies and medical and dental opportunities they would not otherwise have had access to.

Fairfax currently serves as medical chair for the group, and as such, serves as a liaison with physicians, pharmacies and medical supply companies to obtain supplies. Another trip to Honduras is planned for May 2013.

“During our last trip, we were really only in the community four days and we were able to treat more than 800 people - a huge accomplishment for that short a time.”

Fairfax admits that other than enjoying being busy, volunteering in the community “gives me a really great feeling about myself. A lot of people have done a lot to help me become what I am. I see this as my chance to give back.”

And while she was pleased to win the awards she has, she admits, “I don’t do what I do to win awards. There are lots of others, including a lot right here at Acadia, who volunteer just as much.”

Fairfax continues to thrive on all her volunteer work.

“I’m really enjoying all I do, and I really don’t think I could stop now,” she says.

Organizations: Canadian Interuniversity Sport Student-Athlete Community Service, Acadia Players Association, Canada Games Acadia Relay for Life Acadia Global Medical Brigade

Geographic location: Acadia, Kings, Victoria Somerset Honduras Nova Scotian

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