Born in Port Elgin, Ontario, Jeff Preston was diagnosed with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 3 months, which requires him to use an electric wheelchair. Throughout his life Jeff has advocated for the needs of himself and others with disabilities hoping to live an independent and barrier-free life. Jeff has completed a Masters in Media Studies program, also at UWO, where he wrote about disability and the body in his Master’s thesis entitled “Augmented Ability, Integrated Identity: Understanding Sapienism, Adaptive Technology, and the Construction of Disability.” In 2014, Jeff completed a Doctorate in Media Studies, successfully defending his dissertation “Fantasizing Disability: Representation of Loss and Limitation in Popular Television and Film.”
- Received the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) from 2006 to 2009.
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Scholarship from 2007 to 2012.
- Dean’s List 3rd and 4th Years (2005 & 2006) & awarded the Outstanding Achievement as an Undergrad (2006).
- Awarded the Graduate Teaching Assistant Award in 2007, this award is given to a TA based on the number of nominations received and the quality of comments from the students.
FUNDRAISING & ADVOCACY
- Accomplished fundraiser and public speaker, raised over $5,000,000 for scientific research and disability rights advocacy. Co-chair of the annual “Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament” for almost two decades, which has generated over $1,000,000 to fund medical research across the country. Also independently organized and operating cross-province marathon to advocate for accessible transportation in 2008. Through this project, I worked with officials at all levels of government, conducted media interviews with journalists from local, provincial and national press organizations, and produced an hour-long online documentary about the trip.
- Over 20 years of award-winning public speaking experience. Written and delivered thousands of motivational and inspirational speeches that have raised over $5,000,000 for various charitable organizations.
- Awarded the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Award to commend his work on the Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament that has raised over $1,000,000 in 14 years running to fund medical research at the University of Western Ontario.
- Years of Student Council experience as a representative on the Media, Information and Technoculture Student Council, a commissioner on the University Student Council, and the president of the Perth Hall Residence Council.
- Previous Vice-Chair of Easter Seals Ontario’s Board of Directors and a current member of the board and the Services Committee.
- Member of the Accessibility Advisory Committee and Transportation Advisory Committee of London City Council, helping to overcome accessibility and transportation obstacles in London.
- Former member of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council for the Minister of Community and Social Services, Ontario Government, advising on the development of accessibility law in Ontario.
- Developed the first online presence for a funeral home in Port Elgin as founder of JP Graphics. Developed the first funeral home website to display online funeral notices, an online condolence system, and the ability to accept online donations for dispersal to charities.
- Initiated the first Saugeen Shores Special Olympic Floor Hockey team from 2000 to 2002. Recruited, trained, and acquired funding for the first Saugeen Shores Special Olympic Floor Hockey team. This resulted in a strong team of players dedicated to fair play, sportsmanship, and personal development.
- Selected as Season and Playoff MVP (2009) of the Southwestern Electric Wheelchair Hockey League, recording the most assists in the league and helped with player development.
- Developed a fully functional transportation system on University of Western Ontario campus for people with limited mobility. Identified a gap in transportation services, developed a fully functional service plan, brought media attention to the issue, sought funding, and worked with administrators to implement the plan. This resulted in functional service that continues to serve the Western population today.