Bisons linebacker all-round champ

Hall's excellence on and off field honoured with CIS award


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Mary Hall has always known her son Thomas is someone special -- and today the rest of Canada knows it, too.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/11/2009 (4938 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mary Hall has always known her son Thomas is someone special — and today the rest of Canada knows it, too.

Hall, a 19-year-old starting linebacker with the University of Manitoba Bisons football team, was presented with Canadian Interuniversity Sport football’s Russ Jackson Award on Thursday night at the All-Canadian Awards Gala in Quebec City. The 2009 Vanier Cup will be played at Université Laval on Saturday, featuring the Calgary Dinos and the Queen’s Golden Gaels.

The Russ Jackson Award, named for the Canadian Football Hall of Famer and former Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback, is a prestigious individual honour which recognizes excellence in football, academics and community involvement. Hall received the award from the 73-year-old Jackson himself and is the first Bisons player to ever win it since its inception in 1986.

PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Bisons linebacker Thomas Hall (No. 37 at left) and mom Mary Hall at home in Winnipeg. He is involved in charity and commun­ity work in addition to playing football and maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average while working toward becoming a doctor.

"It is just so wonderful and so overwhelming that Thomas is getting this kind of recognition. He’s just so good, right to the core. He’s so modest about everything and has such a good attitude," Mary said. She and her husband Carl were at Thursday’s dinner to see their son’s big moment. Bisons head coach Brian Dobie was in attendance as well.

"We’re a really close family and we’re so proud of all of our kids. They’re all such amazing people, so kind and respectful, and Carl and I get inspired by each one of them in different ways. I’m always impressed by that sense of wanting to make a difference that they all have."

There are three other Hall children — Katie, 23, a U of M law student; Nicholas, 21, a U of M environmental student; and Alison, 18, a first-year journalism student at Carleton University. Thomas is a third-year kinesiology student who is a CIS academic all-Canadian, with a grade-point average of 4.0.

Thomas won the Russ Jackson Award partly for the community work he did after his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2006.

Thomas took a lead role, along with his siblings, to create an annual 20-kilometre fundraising walk called "The Challenge for Life" for CancerCare Manitoba. It has increased awareness of all cancers and raised about $2 million after just two years. The third Challenge for Life is set for June 12, 2010.

Hall is also co-chairman of the Bisons Against Bullying campaign and has recruited more than 60 Bisons athletes to speak about preventive solutions to elementary students around Winnipeg.

He volunteers at St. Paul’s High School, where he was a student, to raise money for the school’s bursary fund, which provides financial assistance to students in need.

"Everyone involved with my mom took such incredible care of her, and that meant everything to us," Thomas said. "My mom did unbelievably well during those treatments.

"We were given an incredible gift (that his mom is beating cancer so far). Because of this, we have started to live more fully and to be focused on helping other people in similar situations."

Mary, now cancer-free for two years, said Thomas and his siblings turned their devastation about her ordeal into motivation.

Thomas is working toward fulfilling his childhood dream of being a doctor.



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