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Lesson #4: “My hope is to the see the benefits of my labour spread out in the community”
In addition to the corporate fundraisers, Wilson has also donated much of his own money to charities near and dear to his heart. He established the Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Saskatchewan, donated $100,000 to the North Battleford United Way, and $500,000 to the Battleford's Union Hospital Foundation. Not to mention the event he co-chaired for the David Foster Foundation in 2007 that raised more than $3 million for families of children requiring organ transplants, an event which won an award for Best Event Produced for a Non-Profit from the Special Events Magazine International Gala Awards. He also regularly visits Mexico with his children to build houses for the less fortunate, has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds for Alzheimer's, and shaved his head for children's cancer research.
But Wilson's passion for the people around him amounts to more than just dollar signs. In 1999, FirstEnergy was held responsible for a tragic event that would change the way it did business. "In 1999, just days before our annual fundraising event called FirstRodeo, we contracted with a company to erect tents on the rodeo grounds. The tents were the standard variety used for weddings and large events," recalls Wilson. But very quickly, something went very wrong.
"During set-up, a metal pole came in contact with an overhead wire and an employee of the tent rental company was electrocuted. It was a tragic accident, and we were subsequently sued," says Wilson. "Certainly no one intended this sort of outcome from an event that was to raise money for charities in our community. Very shortly after, we implemented a company-wide policy to ensure safety at our corporate events - safety for workers and safety for guests. Although we couldn't change the outcome of this tragedy, we owed it to our employees and all those we contracted with to ensure changes were made. It was the right thing to do."
And that is what concerns Wilson - the right thing. "Always keep honesty and integrity at the centre of everything you do," he says. "There's right and there's wrong, and nothing in between."
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