Feature Article (Print or Electronic)

Canadian ministry features inspiring disabled account clerk

Saskatchewan’s highways authority shows how an employee retains optimism even without fully formed arms.


Communications—quite rightly—tend to focus on the goals of organizations. But there are times when an individual’s grit and optimism convey a message of inspiration for his or her colleagues.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure found such an employee in Dave Sparks, an accounting clerk born without fully formed arms.

He’s the guy people try not to stare at in the cafeteria. Others ask if his mother took the drug thalidomide, which was tied to deformities.

But for those who know him, Sparks models an optimism that any organization would love to bottle and spike the water cooler with. That’s why—in a very close competition—Lynette Piper walks away with Ragan’s 2012 Employee Communications Award for Best Feature Article (Print or Electronic).

Despite his disability, Sparks played hockey and golf, managing to hold onto the stick and the clubs. He can tie his shoes and put on hockey skates.

We all know workplace grumblers, but Piper presents Sparks as an inspiration. He never thought of himself as disabled and says he was never treated any differently.

Employees responded favorably, citing the story’s inspiring tone and its kicker, in which Sparks talks about his granddaughter, who was almost 3 years old.

“One day out of the blue, she looked at me and said, ‘Papa—no hands?’” Sparks says. “I told her, ‘That’s right, honey; do you want to continue playing?’ She told me, ‘You be the prince and I be the princess.’ And she just grabbed my arms and started dancing with me.”

To view the winning work, click here.

Want to get recognized for your hard work? Find out about Ragan and PR Daily’s award programs here: https://www.ragan.com/Awards/RaganAwardsPrograms.aspx

View More Employee Communications Awards 2012 Winners.

Visit Ragan.com/Awards to learn more about awards opportunities.