Golden Girl

Who wasn’t excited last week when Kelsey Serwa landed a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics?  

Her thrilling victory was the crown on her stellar career and without a doubt will help foster more Olympic hopefuls from in the Okanagan.

Our local pride came shining through on Friday morning when I witnessed a parade of Canada flags on skis as it made its way around Big White in honour of Kelsey’s medal in South Korea.  

I also took a speedy run down Big White’s ski run Serwa’s with local country music radio personality Casey Clarke where we tried to match Kelsey Olympic speed.

Casey beat me, but we didn’t come close to her record. Kelsey will be the first to tell you that it takes a team of heroes to win a gold medal — family, friends, coaches, sponsors, teammates and more.

She is the sum of the greater parts that made her win even sweeter for all the locals who have supported her amazing career and rise from the slopes of Big White.

For you kids out there and parents supporting their dreams, keep up the hard work, commitment and you can always overcome obstacles.

As Serwa knows, you can come back from anything to be on top of the world.

Doggy Dog

Stop barking, no biting, down boy.

Likely everyone with a dog tends to say these words fairly often. But when was the last time that you stopped to think what your furry friend really does for your family and even the community.

For our family, it hit home the other day as we walked our son to school.

In the five-minute walk, 15 kids must have said hi to the unofficial mascot of Kettle Valley.

Buddy, a 22-month-old golden retriever, seems to have struck a chord with the kids.

When I asked them why they liked Buddy so much, almost all of them said because they always see him around the neighbourhood and in front of the school. He always seems to be smiling.

I am not sure if dogs can smile, but it makes me think of those olden days where everyone looked out for each other and all it took was a cute dog and a wagging tail to get kids excited.

Here’s to local pooches everywhere, strutting their stuff and making us all smile.

Chill out

We love the work going on down on or maybe better said going on in Okanagan Lake.

Led by Manitoba born, but now Kelowna’s own Kendra McFarland the #lakedipchallenge is where kind hearted souls with an ability to brave the freezing winter have gathered to take a dip in cold water to push past their limits and to empower each other to really feel alive.

Those participating have decided to fundraise for charity and have a great time in the process.

Maybe the Manitoba blood made it easier for McFarland to launch her and her friends into this icy challenge, but we think it’s a great idea to take advantage of a long winter to do something fun and for a good cause.


Teacher a big hero

Homegrown hero

The next time your son or daughter comes home from school, ask them how well they know their teacher.

On a recent open house at our son’s school, Chute Lake Elementary, we not only fell in love with his teacher and how hard he worked, but couldn’t believe the effort and care that Mr. Achambault put into his work.

From his ability to remember detail about each of the kids in his class, to the collection of building and learning toys that his parents saved from his childhood and that are now made available in the classroom, this is one ordinary hero that shows up every day to make a difference in the lives of impressionable little people.

We place our kids in the care and trust of our schools for over 1,000 hours a year and its wonderful to learn of such a caring teacher.  

I think most of us can agree that teachers in our schools have a significant influence in helping shape our kids into the citizens we want them to be and to that we thank you teachers, for the joys, the tears, the breakthroughs and the extra miles, you know who you are, thank you from parents everywhere.

College kids doing it right

College kids often get a bad rap. I have a real time example of local Okanagan College students doing it right. 

On Jan.25, the Okanagan College chapter of ENACTUS, a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world helped the 100 Kids Who Care Kelowna chapter.

They put on a fun, educational and impactful charity event. They not only discussed what it meant to be a leader, what community meant to them, but helped the kids in raising $1,000 for charity.

The kids narrowed down their nominations to the top three:

  • KGH Foundation’s  Joanna’s House
  • World Wildlife Fund: Living Planet initiative
  • The Central Okanagan United Way’s Child Safety Initiative 

The $1,000, which came from the kids, Odlum Brown, a campaign sponsor in the ICan app, and matching funds from the Reston James Deacon: A Living Legacy Fund, was donated to the three charities.

Make a call to save the planet

We came across one of the coolest products last week called Pela, an eco-friendly cell phone case. 

As you would expect, the case has amazing protection from drops and scratches. But it's also BPA-free, child-safe and get this, 100 per cent compostable case and plastic free packaging. The Pela team even makes  donations  to environmental initiatives from each sale.

Not only is this a made-in-Canada story, the founder is from Saskatoon and the product is made with Saskatchewan flax straw, but we hear that Pela was recently in town meeting with the UBC Okanagan lab to talk bio-polymer research and innovation. 

Sounds like another win for Silicon Valley North here in the Okanagan.

To share your Ordinary Hero story, please contact: [email protected].

Mentors change lives

This is your look at the ordinary heroes, big and small, famous and not so famous who make a difference in our Okanagan.  

Keep your eyes out for someone you recognize.

What is a Mentor?

Have you ever thought about who helped you to get where you are today? Parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and, of course, family all play a key role.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate mentors, the wise and trusted guides who often play a quiet role in helping us shape our future, break down barriers, lead us to new opportunities and encourage us to keep trying.

Mentors often don’t ask for anything in return and are often not even called a mentor. You know who you are, and we are grateful for your time and guidance.

Ever wondered about how you can have your own mentor? It’s as simple as asking someone you admire, trust, respect and look up to if they would spend time with you, to share their story and offer advice to help you write your next chapter.

You will be amazed at how willing even busy and successful people are to share their talents.

Snow Job 

A big, snowy hug goes out to the talented and patient volunteers who help keep our local ski hills safe. From ski patrol, mountain "snow hosts" to the avalanche techs who make sure we keep on top of the fluffy white stuff, thank you.

Most of us who enjoy a weekend or holiday at Big White or Silver Star are spoiled and rarely encounter a problem; one of the main reasons is the dedicated folks who keep our kids safe and spring into action when an accident or injury occurs. 

Last weekend up at Big White, I saw the team from Powderhounds Adaptive Snow Sports having a blast with individuals who face physical, cognitive and sensory challenges.

They are pros and work hard at what they do, and fun is at the core of what they do.

2018 Resolutions

A big cheer for everyone who sat down over the holidays to make some 2018 resolutions and have stuck to them for the first two weeks of 2018.

What was your goal?

  • Give up drinking
  • Work out every day
  • Save more money
  • Search out a long lost friend
  • Eat better
  • Be nicer

Studies show that on average, some of the top resolutions for 2018 were:

  • Lose weight
  • Spend less money
  • Quit smoking
  • Find a better job and find love.

Forty-two per cent of North Americans make resolutions and eight per cent keep them. A typical resolution is scrapped after just three weeks.

Keep up the work and faith, its mid-January and you can break the record.


Who are your heroes?

This is your look at the ordinary heroes, big and small, famous and not so famous who make a difference in our Okanagan. Keep your eyes out for someone you recognize.

Heroes at Home?

It’s a great time of year for reflection and we encourage you to take a moment to appreciate everything that you have. This holiday season think about who in your family has been a great contributor to community in 2017.

Sometimes, we look far and wide to find heroes, or we idolize those on TV or in the media, but the reality is, right here at home or on our street are friends, neighbours and colleagues making a difference.

For 2018, let's celebrate those un-sung heroes, the difference makers who seek no glory and just do what they do to help out and make our communities a better place.

Well done! you know who you are. Let's all raise a glass.

Light it up!

Who has taken a drive around their neighbourhood and checked out the festive lights? Don’t tell me that you haven’t piled the kids in the car after dark for some freewheeling fun. 

We think that those residents that make the extra effort to hang lights, blow up giant characters and even light up the sides of their houses in a sparkling light show deserve huge credit!

Now it would be easy to make fun and insert a joke about Chevy Chase and Christmas Vacation here but that isn’t the point.

On a recent Tuesday night after taking the wrong turn in our own neighbourhood, my son pointed out how awesome the locals were and how we must have the best street in the city for Christmas lights.

My son might be right, but I will bet that every neighbourhood in our awesome city has a street just like ours. Kudos to those that make the extra effort to brighten our streets this time of year.

Light it up!

Just do it

Who out there in Castanet land feels a bit guilty this time of year? Come on, the office parties, the chips and dip, the never ending stream of presents?

We just aren’t cut out to receive this much in such a short period of time are we?

Well, we have the perfect solution, taking a famous slogan from the NO. 1 shoe company on Earth, Nike, Just Do It!

That’s right, get out there and make a difference this holiday season:

  • shovel a driveway
  • pay it forward with a coffee for the person behind you in line
  • send a thank-you card to someone who made a diffidence in 2017
  • drop into your favourite charity with a donation or something that stretches your limits.

The season is all about reflection, but it can also be about action and making a difference before time expires on yet another year.

Just do it and you will feel fantastic about it. Here’s to an incredible 2018.

To share your Ordinary Hero story please contact: [email protected].

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About the Author

Richard James Deacon is a passionate philanthropist and volunteer and is dedicated to making a lasting impact on the community. Richard has been a director on a variety of not for profit boards across Canada, but is most proud of his role as the founder of 100 Kids Who Care Kelowna, as a co-creator of The Ron+Clair Deacon Leaders Pay It Forward Program, being a Scouts Canada Beaver leader and coaching his son in Central Okanagan youth soccer.

Richard, his beautiful wife, MaryAnn, and their young sons, Reston and Parker, along with golden retriever Buddy live in Kettle Valley and they love to travel the planet extensively. What they love most about Kelowna is that everybody says hi to each other and it still has that small town feel.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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