Remembering Ranjit Sidhu

On March 23, 2013 the Mount Royal community gathered to celebrate the life of Ranjit Sidhu, who tragically lost his life at the age of 31 in a climbing accident at Heart Creek, near Canmore, AB, in July 2012.

Sidhu loves climbing and mountaineering, and was working out of Canmore, AB at the time of his passing.

Sidhu was well-loved in the Mount Royal community, wearing the hat of both student in the Physical Education diploma program and employee in Recreation. In his capacity as a personal trainer in Recreation, Sidhu’s passion for life was fully encompassed in his work and his contagious positive attitude carried through in everything he did.

“Ranjit’s path was less travelled than most,” says Ball Sull, Sidhu’s sister, at the event held in his honour. “His journey may have started off solo, but it ended with friends from all walks of life who will now remember that laugh, or that smile or that giving personality.”

Sidhu started working at Recreation in May 2008 as a personal trainer and in the spinal cord injury program. His passion for working with people with spinal cord injuries was sparked by his involvement with the Calgary Grizzlies, a Calgary-based wheelchair basketball team, where the nickname “Rambo” had affectionately been bestowed upon him. He travelled world-wide as part of local and national teams.

Sidhu was well respected by the team, and is described on their website as being a team player and a leader who always took the extra time to share his knowledge with new players learning the game.

“Rambo, you will be missed on and off the court, but will always be in our hearts,” reads the final farewell from the Calgary Grizzlies organization on their website.

A personal connection

The loss of Sidhu was especially heartfelt among his clients, who like most that got to know him, thought of him as friend first.

“Five years ago, my family started working with a personal trainer at MRU,” says Deanie Petrunia, a client and friend of Sidhu who supported organizing the event. “In our first few sessions it became apparent that the young man who trained us was a very special guy.

“Even when his new full-time job landed him in Canmore, he would still drive in to train clients at MRU and practice with his wheelchair basketball team. Always with a smile and good heart, he saw us through frozen shoulders, sprained ankles, surgeries, just plain bad days and a long cancer recovery. He became a good friend; bringing us samosas and garam masala along with his infectious laughter for over four years [...] We were regaled with his travel adventures in China, England, Tibet and how he loved his family, his friends and his mountains.”

Sidhu was a longtime participant in Calgary Grizzlies wheelchair basketball.
It was the celebration of this passionate spirit that brought over 130 friends, family and members of the Mount Royal community together at The Hub in Wyckham House on March 23, 2013, to honour Sidhu and raise money to fund an endowed scholarship in his name. This scholarship will allow Sidhu’s memory and legacy to live on through students who embody his passion for life.

“Ranjit belived in the journey rather than the destination,” said Sull at the event. “We can confidently say that Ranjit passed with few regrets, and that he would look back knowing he followed his heart on his short journey. And although he is gone, we know it couldn’t have been any other way… We hope the scholarship honours students in their journey, no matter what the destination.”

Supporting the legacy

The initiative in support of the scholarship was spearheaded by Shelly Stranaghan and Cheryl Thurston from Recreation, and David Legg, program coordinator and professor in the Bachelor of Applied Entrepreneurship in Sport & Recreation. Through the Ranjit Sidhu Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser, over $10,000 was raised in support of the endowed scholarship, reresenting over half of the original goal established by the organizers.

Throughout the month of April, Recreation will also be offering group fitness classes for a minimum $5 donation in support of the Ranjit Sidhu Memorial Scholarship — a list of these classes is available on the Recreation website. Donations to the scholarship can also be made at the Recreation Customer Service Desk, or through the Calgary Grizzlies.

Sidhu’s legacy, passion and positive attitude will also live on through each new Recreation employee as his message is featured in their new employee orientation video.

“He will live on in memory as the voice and person that says to every new employee, ‘When I get here — I'm happy....’”, says Shelley Fried, customer service supervisor in Recreation and emcee of the fundraiser. “He really understood the way to live life to the fullest... always stopping for a high five or a hug with anyone that he knew.”

Brendan Greenslade, April 18, 2013