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Marathon runner gives back to community through Crime Stoppers and Georgian Bay Search and Rescue (6 photos)

'The interest is always giving back to the community I’m with'

Bradford resident Derek Adhiya is always looking for ways to give back to the community.  

In 2010, Adhiya made the move from Toronto to Bradford – a growing, diverse community that was a complete change of pace from the busy downtown life of Toronto.

Single with no children, Adhiya began attending many events in the community as an opportunity to get to know more people while learning about the town.

“When I moved into Bradford… Carrotfest was huge,” notes Adhiya. “It was really neat coming from the city to see how the whole town comes together and shuts down the whole street.”

While attending events like CarrotFest and Bradford’s RibFest, Adhiya frequently came across vendor booths for Crime Stoppers of Simcoe – a non-profit organization that partners with the public, police services, and media to encourage anonymous tips for reporting crimes. 

Adhiya became a volunteer with Crime Stoppers in 2018 and was involved with many fundraisers for various charities, helped with the Crime Stoppers float in the Bradford Santa Claus parade, and  helped collect toys in the organization's annual Santa Toy Drive.

“They’re fun events,” says Adhiya. “We’re not selling anything – it’s Crime Stoppers – help your community, see a crime, report it, or if something bothers you, ask questions. Police can’t be everywhere at all times… a lot of this stuff happens through the community reporting it. [For example], if you see a swerving vehicle on the road, call it in. Police will investigate and you might have saved a family from being hit by a drunk driver.”

Adhiya’s passion for Crime Stoppers led him to volunteer with the Georgian Bay Search & Rescue team in 2019 where he received vigorous hands-on training as mandated by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), giving him opportunities to work with search and cadaver dogs.

“The training is pretty rough, sometimes it can get pretty late,” notes Adhiya, adding that they work with a compass outdoors during training and testing. “We are put into a forest late at night, given coordinates and given an hour or two to find a location in the dark with just a compass and flashlight. Other times, we’re made to search for things that don’t belong in a forest, like toys, shoelaces, trinkets.”

Adhiya completes approximately four-five hours of training a month with the Georgian Bay Search & Rescue and says his team is often called upon by OPP or South Simcoe Police (SSP) to help locate missing elderly people. 

“Last summer, we received a call of an elderly person that went missing [and] had Alzheimer's. We were called upon by Barrie police and created a search team,” remembers Adhiya. “It’s tough, we have a lot of gear on us - backpacks with food, water, first aid, a compass, radios, a map – we always communicate with base command and follow-up on clues… [like] a found shoe, you must describe the size, colour, and verify with the family [of the missing person].”

Adhiya adds that part of training is to prepare for difficult scenarios and that often times they get mucky and dirty during searches and use a lot of bug repellant.

“I have a soft spot for search and rescue [and] a soft spot for elderly when they get lost,” expresses Adhiya. “They just get up and walk and continue walking for days… they get so lost – that’s their mind – sometimes they get stuck in a ditch.”

Prior to volunteering with Crime Stoppers and Georgian Bay Search & Rescue, Adhiya also volunteered with a seniors retirement home in Mississauga back in 2008, The Village of Erin Meadows – Oakwood Retirement Communities. This led him to also volunteer at the Bradford Valley Care Community nursing home when he moved to Bradford.

“I had the extra time on weekends, I could hang out with friends or I could give back,” shares Adhiya. “It gives me a better feeling inside, just a few hours a week/weekend just to give back. It gives you self worth [and] even helps you with leadership! Growing up you want to have those traits within you.”

Adhiya credits his grandfather for setting the example for volunteerism back in the ’60s and learned family stories about his grandfather’s commitments to his community over the years.

“He’s passed away now but when he first came to Canada, he used to get involved with the community [and] put together many toy drives,” remembers Adhiya.

For 15 years, Adhiya worked in the automation controls industry, providing and maintaining parking control systems, cameras, gate sensors and activation systems at hospitals, police stations, impound lots, and courthouses. 

Adhiya eventually decided to leave his job and since the pandemic began, has been taking a course at Georgian College in police foundations, with hopes of stepping into the fields of security or by-law. 

“Now with Covid, I figured I’d take advantage during the summer and get the course done (hopefully) by the end of Covid,” shares Adhiya, adding that his first-aid and CPR certificates are always up-to-date. “It adds to my resume and experience, gaining more knowledge and training… and a bonus is sometimes placement.” 

In 2017, Adhiya participated in a volunteer course through SSP called ‘Citizens Police Academy’ which teaches the community about different aspects of police services including how canine units work and provides more information on their programs like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

“That’s why I like promoting what Crime Stoppers is about – the community is safe because of who is in it, not just who polices it,” explains Adhiya. “The interest is always giving back to the community I’m with.”

Adhiya is also a highly motivated marathon runner and does a lot of half-marathons, participating in the Mississauga Marathon, Barrie Waterfront, Southlake Hospital 10K, Burlington Half-Marathon, and the Newmarket Santa Claus Run. 

“I love running,” says Adhiya. “I’ve done so many, I have walls of medals… it’s [a] pastime to keep myself in shape.”

Adhiya encourages anyone looking to volunteer to visit the Crime Stoppers website to learn more about the organization’s services and how they can get more involved with their community. 

“This is how we help you, and how you help us… that’s community involvement – we are a small town – so it’s up to the community!” expresses Adhiya.