Meet Reader's Digest's Heroes of the Year! Magazine celebrates remarkable achievements of five extraordinary Canadians


    MONTREAL, Dec. 29 /CNW/ - What makes a hero? Reader's Digest believes
that not only do heroes reveal the "extra" in the "ordinary", but they also
triumph in their everyday actions and demonstrate with conviction that more
can always be done. This January we honour Reader's Digest's Heroes of 2008,
Canadians whose common thread is how to commit to a positive cause or action
and stick with it.
    We are proud to introduce these five remarkable Canadians.

    Our Rescue Hero, featured on our cover, is Susan Fyfe from Sherwood Park,
Alberta, a satellite community of Edmonton. A nurse, motivational speaker and
mother of four, Fyfe faced a calamity head on and saved the lives of 100
Arabian horses. Last March the Edmonton SPCA received a complaint about horses
in various stages of neglect and starvation, some just days away from death.
When Fyfe, who also runs Keno Hills Stable, heard that the SPCA was going to
auction them off she was concerned they wouldn't fare well. Within 24 hours
she had galvanized dozens of volunteers and, with their help, raised the funds
and goods (such as feed and equipment). After arriving at Fyfe's ranch the
horses began to flourish and all were adopted by last summer. Why didn't Fyfe
keep one? "I did it to save the horses, not add to my herd," she says.

    Margaret Catley-Carlson's motto is simple: "You have a duty to be
optimistic. You must act as if you believe." Our Public Life Hero from
Vancouver, British Columbia, has spent 40 years working for global good as a
former diplomat and head of the Canadian International Development Agency, and
now acts as an international water management crusader. Her goal is to forge a
loose global consensus on water management before it is too late. She travels
the world chairing committees, giving speeches and talking to scientists.
Catley-Carlson knows that water is a precious resource that must be managed,
and is dedicated to spreading the word.

    Les Impatients, a Quebec art therapy foundation, has helped thousands of
people with psychiatric disorders - people who can credit Lorraine Palardy
with helping change their lives. Montreal resident Palardy, our Community
Hero, has been at the helm of the association for the last 10 years, raising
funds and public awareness for people affected by mental health issues. Each
year over 250 people take part in Les Impatients' art, music and drama therapy
workshops, which allow participants to channel outward what is hurting inside.
Although approaching the age of retirement, Palardy isn't quitting anytime
soon, saying, "There is too much work that needs to be done to change the way
people see mental illness."

    Ellen Szita's story is a remarkable tale of overcoming adversity at any
age. Our Education Hero from Victoria, British Columbia, not only walks the
walk of a recovering alcoholic, but finally learned to read at the age of 45,
breaking the cycle of illiteracy in her family. Szita is currently chair of
the Learners Advisory Network of the Movement for Canadian Literacy, and
speaks about her experiences at conferences. Szita's story was made into a
compelling CBC documentary and she has won awards and accolades for her
activism, including the Canada Post Flight for Freedom award for literacy.
Despite her accomplishments, Szita humbly shies away from the limelight,
saying, "I'm just a person who went back to school."

    Pauline Gauthier's journey to help Afghan children began with an
unforgettable face: a six-year old boy, Namatullah, dying of cancer, beamed
into her living room via television. Gauthier, our Health Hero from Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, was a veteran of nursing in northern aboriginal communities,
where she had seen more than her share of sick kids. But something about
Namatullah tugged at her heart and soon after she founded Adopt Afghanistan
and Namatullah's Foundation for Pediatric Care, which has raised over $70,000
and focuses on saving one child at a time. She has been instrumental in saving
several children's lives, raising money to build a school, and shipping
hygiene kits to new mums. "Hey," Gauthier says, "soap saves lives."
    Remarkable stories, remarkable Canadians...some heroes do walk among us.
Check out their stories and more in the special Heroes section of Reader's
Digest, featured in January's issue. And visit us online at www.rd.ca to
nominate your Heroes of 2009.

    Reader's Digest is a leading Canadian multi-brand media and marketing
company that educates, entertains and inspires, connecting audiences
throughout Canada. It publishes 5 magazines, including Reader's Digest and
Sélection, Canada's most read magazines with 7.8 million readers a month. It
has recently launched Best Health, a healthy lifestyle magazine for Canadian
women and More of Our Canada, a companion magazine to the very popular Our
Canada magazine. It operates 4 branded websites (rd.ca, selection.ca,
ourcanada.ca and besthealthmag.ca) along with being a premier publisher of
books, music and video products.




For further information: or to set up an interview, contact Sarah
Stevens at Meisner, de Groot & Associates in Toronto, (416) 368-3763, or
email: sarah@mdgassociates.com