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No Jacket Required – A Year in the Life of a Top 50 Under 50

It was early September 2020 when it happened. It was a normal day at work when I received a suspicious email. The subject line read this: “Congratulations! You’ve been selected for the YMM Top 50 Under 50 Class of 2020”.

What? Wait a minute? Did this get sent to the wrong email?

I looked at the email more closely. It wasn’t spam, and it wasn’t sent to the wrong email. Forty-nine others had also received this much-coveted message. I wondered who they were. I wondered if they were as shocked and excited as me.

Fast forward to the end of 2021: I’ve been a Top 50 star for an entire year. It’s been a blast, but now it’s time to welcome the next class. Before I do, I want to highlight a few of the benefits I experienced as a result of this prestigious recognition.

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First things first: I’m just glad that I made it! I’m turning 48 soon, which would have left me with only a couple more chances to qualify. The fact that I made it has been a huge relief, so now I can continue aging without worry.

My first Top 50 experience was getting photos taken and hanging with the crew of YMM Magazine in a warehouse along Memorial Drive. I have to hand it to the YMM team for keeping things together in the middle of quarantine. While there were a few more protocols to keep everyone safe, it didn’t impact the feeling that I had joined an elite community.

Afterwards, all 50 of us received framed portraits of ourselves. Mine was so well done that it made me look like my non-existent, better-looking, younger brother. (I quickly replaced all the mirrors in my home with this photo.)

During the photograph process, I only got to meet a few of the other Top 50ers, and the rest of the Top 50 process was done remotely due to COVID. It was unfortunate, but I was happy that a few of my close friends were also recognized in 2020. As an added bonus, I have since gotten acquainted with a few other Top 50ers I hadn’t known previously.

Once the magazine was published, we each received a handful of copies with a very generous gift package.

Based on the social media response, I think a lot of my family and friends back in Ontario were quite impressed. It was kind of a big deal – not just for me, but for them too. I have to admit, it was great for my self-esteem (and my resume). After all, who doesn’t need a little confidence boost once in a while?

Since the celebrations began in 2016, there have now been 300 inductees into the Hall of Top 50 Fame. I think we’d all agree that there are many more than 300 remarkable people in our region, but I also think celebrating the Top 50 Under 50 every year is an important way to recognize the people who make this region such a great place to live, work and play.

To the Class of 2021, I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations. You made it! You made this region special for all of us! Now go enjoy the glory for a full year, and age peacefully past 50.

While I hand over the Top 50 reins of responsibility to this year’s class, I just want to let you all know that I’m still available for autographs.

About the author

Author Profile
Will Collins

Will is a Fort McMurray-based writer, humourist and musician. He works as a professional communicator, and is very serious about not taking life very seriously. He likes world travel, playing guitar, BBQs, and caipirinha.

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