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‘I feel humbled and so grateful.’ We surprise a knight in shining soccer boots

NewmarketToday delivers a Random Act of Kindness to soccer legend and pillar of our local community, Byron Manuel

Byron Manuel regularly visits his sister, Michele, to check in on her and his nephew. But when Michele recently invited her brother for dinner, she had a surprise up her sleeve. 

Byron laughed as he shared his experience: “I went to visit my sister Michele with my brother, Arthur. I walked in and there was a crowd of people there! I didn’t know what was going on - it was quite a surprise!”

Michele had many reasons to nominate her brother for a Random Act of Kindness. 

“I grew up as the only girl with five brothers,” Michele explained. “If anyone tried to pick on me, Byron was always my knight in shining armour - and he still is today. Not just for me, but for so many people in our community.” 

Byron and Michele were born in Zimbabwe. When Michele moved to Newmarket some years ago, Byron had already been here for years and immediately stepped up to help her and her son.

“My son was six, and Byron took him along to the soccer team he was coaching. It was wonderful for him. He made friends and was able to settle into our new community,” Michele shares.

Byron coached youth soccer for years before it sadly came to a halt during the covid pandemic. He was once a professional soccer player for the Zimbabwe national team and played in the 1982 World Cup qualifiers before moving to Canada. 

Once a newcomer himself, Byron now makes the time to help fellow Zimbabweans integrate into Newmarket and the surrounding areas. He connects them with the services they need, helps them to find a job and hosts social activities to help them settle in.

“He is also a friend to the older community,” Michele added. “He steps up in the winter time to shovel driveways for several elderly couples in the winter and mows their lawns in the summer.”

Byron reflected, “I never had the chance to care for my own parents when they were around, so I want to give back in any way that I can now.”

A recent health issue made Michele even more grateful for her brother’s support. 

“He has been with me throughout my cancer journey,” she explained. “He checked on me every day, took me to hospital appointments and drove me anywhere I needed to go. He has been so supportive.”

When Michele came across the NewmarketToday Random Acts of Kindness program, Byron was the first person who came to mind.

“I wanted to thank Byron for what he has done, not only for me, but for the community,’ Michele said. “He has so much heart and is always willing to help.” 

Surprising Byron as he arrived for dinner at Michele’s place, NewmarketToday, along with a group of people whose lives had been touched by Byron, recognized him with a Random Act of Kindness. 

Not only that, but our wonderful co-sponsors contributed gifts for the occasion: Sport Chek and Canadian Tire donated gift cards and Bakers Crush baked a delicious cake decorated with the emblem of Byron’s favourite soccer team, Manchester United. 

“I never expected anything in return. I just do it out of kindness. Whoever needs help, I am here to help,” Byron expressed. “I feel humbled and so grateful that people have noticed and recognized what I do.”

If you know someone in the community who deserves recognition for their selfless actions, positivity in the face of hardship, or just for being a great person, you can nominate them for a Random Act of Kindness. Fill out our nomination form today!

If you would like to support our Random Acts of Kindness program, please email [email protected].

NewmarketToday is proud to make a difference in our community by highlighting extraordinary individuals and organizations with our Random Acts of Kindness, a foundational piece of our NewmarketToday Cares Program.

The NewmarketToday Cares team's mission is to create meaningful change in Newmarket and inspire others to do the same.