5 years ago I attended an award show which embodied a unique sense of family, community and inspiration, it was the Aroni Awards; a show created to honour the memory of Aron Haile. An accomplished entrepreneur and software developer, Aron died tragically at the age of 30 in an accident in Eritea.

Aron was known in the community for his willingness to mentor, which provided him with many meaningful relationships while giving back to his community.

Honouring a young man taken all too soon, the Aroni awards standout because where many award shows may celebrate a body of work that encompasses a lifetime, the Aroni’s recognize not only lifelong work but also those in the infancy of their community activism.

After 5 years the show has garnered a reputation for its innovative approach and youthful energy, and this year was no exception. The showcased its diversity, through its awardees, sponsors and volunteers.

This year’s recipients included Aliyana Reshamwalla who at 5 years old was being honoured for her community service. She also deserves special mention for being the most adorable recipient of the evening. After spending 3 years in Sick kids hospital, Aliyana has gone on to organize fundraisers for Haiti and Pakistan disaster victims. Her story was not only inspirational but a great reminder that recognizing community spirit should not be dependant on a long list of accomplishments.

Also honoured was female entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Belinda Barrocks. She was given the Youth & Entreprenurship award, because of her work mentoring teenagers. Her acceptance speech was a beautiful tribute to her family, her faith and the power of believing in your dreams.

Not only were the recipients showcased but sponsors from the community. One standout sponsor was Dreammaker Realty, a Community brokerage firm, committed to building generational wealth in marginalized communities.

Dreammaker Brand and Community development executive, Ike Okafor, expressed why it was important for his firm to support the Aronis this year.

“The demographic they’re honouring, speaks to the vision of the organizers. A critical aspect of mentoring is acknowledging the work of the youth in our community. Acknowledgement is important for the community and for the city because it is not only empowering our community but others.”

Aron Haile exemplified the best our community has to offer, through his selflessness and hard work, and thanks to the Aroni Awards his memory and these leadership qualities will continue to thrive.

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