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EVENT LINEUP

Who We Are

SARAH PENNINGTON

Co-Host / Event Speaker

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Sarah M. Pennington is a 21-year-old college student attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. She is pursuing a BFA in Film & TV with a minor in Business Management and Entrepreneurship with the hopes of becoming a film director. In addition to her academic endeavours, Sarah spends much of her time involved with motivational speaking.

She is a passionate advocate on behalf of mental health and invisible disabilities and enjoys sharing her story of courage and self-love with the hope of inspiring others. Sarah loves to travel with her service dog, Daisy, across the United States and Canada as she speaks to groups of all ages and sizes. One of the highlights of Sarah’s career thus far has been her appearance on the Megyn Kelly Today Show where she discussed breaking barriers as a pageant girl.

Citrus Fruits

AARON ARMSTRONG

Co-Host

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Aaron Armstrong has been an Atlantic Canadian radio host for more than 10 years now, with his voice having broadcast across each of the Maritime provinces.

 

Aaron has assisted and hosted numerous charitable functions over the years and is thrilled for the opportunity to not only co-host WE Believe Saint John, but also see the incredible lineup of speakers and hear their stories.

 

Let's welcome Aaron to the We Believe stage!

Josh
Norrad

Co-Host

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Meet Josh Norrad, the dynamic co-host set to captivate audiences of the next WE Believe Event. Hailing from central New Brunswick, this multi-award-nominated country sensation seamlessly blends gritty country roots with a dash of rock swagger, drawing inspiration from icons like Alan Jackson, AC/DC, and Thousand Foot Krutch.

 

Josh's on-stage persona unleashes a powerful fusion of high-octane, rock-infused country music, reflecting his authentic "country boy" lifestyle. A seasoned performer, he's renowned for his electrifying shows, unique energy, and an uncanny ability to connect with audiences. Boasting six nominations, including 2x MNB Country Artist of the Year, Josh's music weaves a compelling narrative of country life, adventure, and triumph, rising from rock bottom.

 

From conquering grand stages to intimate venues, Josh is on a mission to make a lasting impact, embodying the true essence of country and the spirit of rock. Raised off the grid at his family's hunting and fishing camp, his early years entrenched a passion for outdoor adventure, from 4-wheelers to midnight river runs. Beyond the spotlight, he is a dedicated grain farmer, regularly making biannual trips to the Canadian Prairies to lend a hand on a sprawling farm in Saskatchewan.

DAVE
SMITH

Event Speaker

Empowering Mental Health Through Cultural Reconnection

 

Dave Smith, Co-Founder & Storyteller at First Nations Storytellers, embodies resilience and empowerment. Raised outside his First Nations culture because of the "60’s scoop", Dave's personal journey is a fusion of Indigenous heritage with broader Canadian society through his "two-eyed seeing" approach.

After quitting his job and starting down the path to reclaim his culture through First Nations Storytellers, Dave experienced a profound transformation in his mental health. Reconnecting with his roots and embracing his Indigenous identity became a source of strength and healing.

At "We Believe - Saint John Event", Dave will share his personal journey of overcoming mental health challenges through cultural reconnection and the transformative power of self-discovery. His story serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring others to embrace their heritage and prioritize their mental well-being. We are excited to welcome Dave to the We Believe stage in May.

ANTHONY IANNI

Event Speaker

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At the age of four, Anthony was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), which is on the Autism Spectrum (ASD). Specialists told his parents that he would barely graduate high school, would never finish college, would never have a shot at being an athlete, and would likely live in a group institution with other Autistic kids for his adult life.

Despite adversity, bullies, and numerous personal challenges Anthony worked hard and never gave up. Not only did he earn his Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University in Sociology he is the first known athlete with autism to play NCAA Division One College Basketball. Today, Anthony is one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the country.

DANCEABILITY

Event Dancers

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The Senior Competitive Students of Danceability are honoured to perform at the We Believe event this May!  These dancers come from two troupes within the school.  Our older girls in Kollision are Ashlyn, Jeana, Ciara, and Brooklynn.  Looking up to them is Rhythmix.  Julianna, Kayla, Taylor, Delia, Taryn, Emma, and Katey all have been members of this troupe since its first year.   

 

These women have spent their lives dancing. Through good times and bad, dance has been the outlet in which these artists express their emotions, as well as burn fuel after a hard day at school.  They travel to at least four competitions every year and perform in multiple shows.  They spend hours in their studio each week, not just with their own class but assisting with the younger classes too.     

 

Currently these dancers are prepping for their first show in March.  From now until then, the girls are giving all their routines one last deep clean before hitting the stage this spring.  They will compete here in Saint John, Fredericton, and Moncton.   

 

When you watch these girls dance you can expect to see JOY, passion, excitement, energy, and so much love!

EMMA JEAPES

Highlighted Speaker

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Emma Jeapes is a 21-year-old Carleton University student who is double majoring in French and History. Emma loves sports and working out. She has participated in several varsity teams in high school including Cross Country Running, Track and Field, Downhill and Nordic Skiing, and swimming.

Emma is passionate about her community and giving back. She continues to spend much of her free time volunteering with any activity that involves her passion, children. Once completed school, Emma plans to teach children in less fortunate communities giving them opportunities that they may not otherwise have!

ISAAC GROOM

Event Speaker

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My name is Isaac Groom, and I am from St. Stephen, NB. I am a first-year student at the University of New Brunswick and am in the health program. I enjoy curling, running, kayaking, and reading.

 

I also spend much of my time volunteering with anything that needs my help. This includes tutoring, volunteering at my local church, Lincourt Manor, and volunteering for We Got Your Back.

 

Also, I recently signed up for the Global Medical Brigades chapter at my school as we are fundraising for a medical relief trip to Honduras and the Best Buddies program where you get the opportunity to form connections with neuro-diverse people in the community. My future career goal is to become a paediatrician.

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LAURA GROOM

Highlighted Speaker

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My name is Laura Groom, and I live in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. I am a grade 11
student at St. Stephen High School where I participate in leadership club, green group, and drama. I also play on my school’s soccer and basketball teams, but I enjoy playing pretty much all sports.

I have been taking dance classes for the past 10 years. I enjoy all things art, like
drawing, painting, colouring, and decorating. Also doing anything outside makes me happy. Biking, swimming, hiking, and running are all such fun things that I do. My future career of choice is to pursue dentistry.

MADDISON TORY

Event Speaker

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Maddison is an international motivational speaker, health advocate and change maker.
She advocates for youth to help them find their voices and works with advisory boards and advocacy platforms to push for a healthcare system that looks past diagnosis and symptoms and treats the whole person. Maddison jokes that her biggest accomplishment to date is becoming a HUG dealer and founder of her own social enterprise called HUGS, a program committed to improving kids mental health and quality of life during their hospital stays through experiences, funds and support. She is determined to make a difference through volunteering, fundraising and spreading positivity one HUG at a time.

She is the author of the charity children’s empowerment book called “Your Secret Superpower: Ignite your SPARK”, inspiring youth to take action. In addition, she is a Special Olympics Coach, volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house, and board member on the Alberta Children’s Hospital Child and Youth Advisory Council, the Alberta Children's Hospital Youth Philanthropy Council, and the Transition Youth Advisory Council.

Maddison is continuing her work in health sciences by studying at the University of Calgary, focussing on a career as a medical researcher, physician/ cardiologist, and hospital administrator.

MELISSA MARSHALL

Musical Performer

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Canadian East Coast country/pop/rock artist Melissa Marshall is forging a path into the country music scene. She has opened for Aaron Goodvin, Chris Cummings, Frankie Ballard, Brooke Eden, performed alongside Chris Buck Band and more. She has been a Music NB award nominee, recognized for her previous releases including 'Highway 83' charting on the Canadian Country Billboard chart.

Following her further delve into the craft of song writing and artist development, Melissa is ready to debut her fresh new sound and single, 'Missin’ U', releasing June 16th to all country radio and streaming platforms. This edgy, fun and upbeat song is the first release from her illuminating debut EP album, 'Phoenix In The Fire', set to release this upcoming Fall.

'Missin’ U' tells a story of being single, happy, confident and not looking for love and then that special person walks into your life when you least expect it. “I wasn’t looking for anything when he walked into my life, but we hit it off right away. We fell in love and became best friends; my ride or die. It didn’t take long for me to realize that he was that missing puzzle piece I didn’t know I didn’t have until we met.”

Melissa can be heard this summer on her East Coast radio tour, performing ticketed live shows campaigning 'Missin’ U' where you will hear her talk about her current single, what to expect from her next and when as well as the making of 'Phoenix In The Fire' and more.

Melissa is honoured to be on the We Believe stage, along with many other speakers and performers impacting our youth to Be The Change.

SARAH WELLS

Event Speaker

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Obstacles don’t scare Sarah Wells. As a 400m hurdler, this Olympian’s reputation was forged through overcoming challenges and achieving the incredible. Take her debut at the London Olympics in 2012, which came despite an injury that had sidelined her for months just the year before. Outside of competitive sports, this athlete is coaching people to pursue their goals through the Believe Initiative, an organization founded on—fittingly—a message of resilience.

Most recently you would have seen Sarah pushing her limits on the latest season of the Amazing Race Canada, where she got to push her boundaries in a whole new kind of way! Evidently, someone who understands the importance of self-belief and the power of purpose, you'll want to listen up when this Olympic semi-finalist and Pan Am Games silver medallist takes the stage. We welcome Sarah to the We Believe stage on May 26, 2022, at TD Station in Saint John, New Brunswick.

THOMAS HALLIHAN

Event Speaker

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Starting his PowerPlay journey in the fall of 2021, Thomas Hallihan quickly evolved "Knuckle Puck Hockey" into an established brand within his area.

 

At first, Thomas only sold T-Shirts and masks, but when he noticed a gap in the market, he quickly expanded to hoodies and hats, even getting the Premier of New Brunswick, Blaine Higgs's stamp of approval. Following the success of Knuckle Puck Hockey, Thomas took a leap of faith and began the "Lighting the Lamp" Podcast.

 

So far, he has had the opportunity to interview players in the QMJHL and share some exciting stories with his fanbase. Thomas hopes to yet again expand with a video creation company.

 

Thomas has become well-established in the young entrepreneur community, and he hopes others will be inspired by him and follow in his footsteps.

ELLA

Event Speaker

ELLA

Ella is a grade 8 student at Gretna Green School. Ella has been able to take the skills she learned through participating in the PowerPlay Young Entrepreneur program at school to help create a school business – Gator Designs. She loves all aspects of being involved with Gator Designs – from creating, manufacturing, marketing, selling products and working as a team.

Outside of school, Ella has part-time jobs such as babysitting, timekeeping, and working in the canteens. She is also a contributing member of The Miramichi Reader.

In her spare time, Ella enjoys playing softball, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

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