City honours its best

"Wow!" The buzzword of the night Thursday, during the 40th annual Civic and Community Awards ceremony at Kelowna Community Theatre.

Recipient after recipient uttered the word in amazement during acceptance speeches as the quality of finalists rivalled any in recent memory.

The biggest shock came at the end of the night, when Arion Therapeutic Farm founder Heather Henderson stepped on stage to accept the Anita Tozer Award.

The award is presented to an individual or group in recognition of an extraordinary and positive contribution to the quality of life in Kelowna. It is not open to the public for nominating, as each year it is selected and presented by mayor and council.

What started out as a dream and a pilot project six years ago has become a staple for those with disabilities and seniors in the Central Okanagan.

Arion Therapeutic Farm was the brainchild of Henderson who, in 2009, began the riding project on a piece of rental property with a couple of donated horses. A year later, Henderson cut the ribbon on the non-profit society's own farm.

Today, there are 22 employees and more than 100 volunteers who assist some 300 people with various disabilities or desires to climb onto a horse and experience the freedom and trust of horseback riding.

The farm offers 13 programs for individuals with physical, social and mental challenges as well as senior clients looking for some peace and serenity on the farm.

Club Penguin co-founder David Krysko captured the Fred Macklin Memorial Award as the city's Man of the Year. Following the sale of Club Penguin to Disney in 2007, Krysko founded Karis Support Society to run 12 addiction recovery homes here at an annual cost of $1.4 million.

Other charities his Krysko Family Foundation supports include Building Healthy Families, Creators Arts Centre and Tribehouse. Some 600 volunteer hours or more have gone into these pursuits.

As a musician and supporter of the arts, he founded the Streaming Café and Bottega Farm Inn, and in September he joined Okanagan College as Entrepreneur in Residence, and has since volunteered 100 hours or more in that position.

"I have a lot to be thankful for," said Krysko as he accepted the award.

"This night will be a reminder of the great things we have done and the great things we are going to do."

A key founder of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Network, Meryle Corbett was named the Sarah Donalda-Treadgold Memorial Award winner as Woman of the Year.

She made a long-term commitment to create a support network for female executives in business and the not for profit fields.

This past year, Corbett donated almost 230 hours of volunteer time between the Women’s Leadership Network, UBC Okanagan commitments, fundraising for the KGH Foundation and in other roles, such as a director on the CMA Canada National Board and as part of the YLW Advisory Board.

Other hours included time spent volunteering at Soup Sisters, doing business introductions, giving resume coaching and with the Kelowna Flightcraft Foundation.

Other award winners from Thursday include:

  • Antony Knight - Teen Honour in the Arts
  • Jennifer Schell - Honour in the Arts
  • Thish Rajapakshe - Young Female Volunteer
  • Nikolai Lesack - Young Male Volunteer
  • Emma Johnson - Augie Ciancone High School Female Athlete of the Year
  • Jeff Tubbs - Augie Ciancone High School Male Athlete of the Year
  • Tom Maxwell - Bob Giordano Award
  • Kelsey Serwa - Female Athlete of the Year
  • Robbie Yochim - Male Athlete of the Year
  • Okanagan Rockets Major Midget Hockey Club - Bryan Couling Team of the Year
  • Casey Hamilton - Champion for the Environment, Individual
  • 1-800 Got Junk - Champion for the Environment, Business
  • United Way of the Central and South Okanagan Similkameen - Volunteer Organization of the Year
  • Wentworth Music - Corporate Community of the Year. Small/Medium Business
  • Save On Foods - Corporate Community of the Year. Large Business

Also in attendance Thursday were several former award recipients as the city celebrated the milestone 40th annual award ceremony.


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