Bikers on the move

A big Heroes pump up for everyone who hopped on their bikes to go back to school and work after the summer.

It’s great to see people braving the rain and busy streets to cut back on carbon emissions, save on gas prices and get a little exercise in the process.  

We especially love the hard-core cyclists who steam up Chute Lake hill into Kettle Valley after a hard day at the office, it’s a breeze in the morning and often we have bikes pass us at 50 km/h while we sit in traffic, but it sure must be hard coming back in the late afternoon.

We also love the daily morning rat race of kids of all ages who blaze out of their homes and bike to school.

At our son’s school, the bike racks are full and bikes lined up along the fences. It’s great to see and if it's anything like when we biked to school as kids, it’s one of the best moments of the day — pure freedom on two wheels with mom and dad out of earshot.

Keep on riding kids.


We aren’t talking about the army of 20 somethings, often from Quebec, who descend upon the orchards in late summer to pluck the ripening fruits from trees and vines.

We are talking about the quiet pickers who I often see bending over to scoop up a tossed can or grocery bag, a round of fast food containers or errant beer cans.

This summer, I noticed more often than in the past that our beaches and parks were clean and often free of debris.

We owe a round of Hero hugs to our Okanagan citizens who take a few moments to scoop up trash and put it where it belongs.They keep our favourite spots a little bit cleaner and greener, which is a part of what defines the Okanagan lifestyle.


We live in mountain-biking-and-hiking heaven here in the Okanagan.

The other day, we were wondering who keeps the trails in such perfect condition. Sure, there are our parks and rec team, but we heard there are amazing volunteer groups that are behind the building and maintaining of so many of the top trails in the Valley.

They cut trees, shore up paths, move gravel and map the routes we love, turning our trails into some of the most accessible and well maintained anywhere in the world.

The next time you pass someone on the hillside who is helping make the trails better, be sure to thank them on behalf of the team here at Heroes. Well done.

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


Hero's hurrah for fathers


A big Heroes hurrah to all the dads kicking it with their kids in June. Father’s Day always comes and goes so quickly in our house and this year was no different.  

Who doesn’t love carrying on a tradition from their dad? Fishing, working on the car, playing catch or just sitting on the dock or back step shooting the breeze.

Life is busy and with so many activities with our kids, working overtime and balancing friends and family, sometimes it’s just nice to take a stroll down memory lane and catch up with our dad or in my case recently spend a half hour chatting with my own son on a car ride back from soccer.

He told me things I hadn’t heard before and it made me laugh, smile and answer some tough questions.

But the best part was when he asked me to go for ice cream. I said yes, let him pick the scoops and then he asked me to pay. I gladly accepted.

Thanks, son.


It was a couple of Sunday’s ago as our family sat and ate a great breakfast at Sunny’s Diner downtown as the idea to celebrate cooks came into my mind,

I’m not talking about the well-known chefs, celebrities and award winners who typically garner all the spotlight.

I mean the prep cooks, line cooks, the team behind any great restaurant: chopping, blanching, and getting every last part of the plate ready to be passed past the watchful eyes of the head chef.

So whether it’s someone in your house who makes the effort for a mid-week meal seem fun, the best breakfast you’ve ever eaten or all the ingredients for your favourite pizza chopped just right, you know who to thank.

Let’s raise a glass to the cooks who keep it together.

And a special shout out to Chef Bernard, an award-winning top chef who isn’t too good to play the role of prep cook. That’s right, Chef, I saw you chopping, slicing and dicing in the back recently. Kudos, brother.


We thought we would be proactive here at Ordinary Heroes and send a shout out to all the summer lifeguards that we know will be watching over our kids in the community pools and the sun-burned tourists splashing in our lakes now through Labour Day.

We know they love what they do and we rarely see them spring into action, but when they do, it’s like a well-oiled machine, (pardon the pun sunbathers) but I’ve seen lifeguards assist the young and old and they know just what to do at that crucial time.

Many of them are teens earning a summer living and carrying on their swim training. Baywatch may have made lifeguarding glamorous, but the reality is, these are highly trained rescue specialists who will no doubt save lives this summer.

The next time you hear a whistle blown by the water, respect it and give them a wave or high five for keeping our beaches and pools safe.

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

Sandbaggers do great work

As I cycled past Mill Creek on my way to work the other day, I saw a sea of orange. I had to double take to see who they were and what they were doing.

Turns out they were a small army of Forest Service workers. Although trained to fight fires in the back country, they had been called upon to help remove the thousands of sand bags no longer needed since the water levels in many of our local creeks had started to lower.

I watched them form a hyper-efficient human chain to remove the bags from the creek bank and toss them into a huge pile that would eventually make its way into their blue pickup trucks.

It made me thankful for our support system here in Canada and especially in the Okanagan Valley. Not only had this hard-working crew been proactive and laid these sandbags in preparation for a potential flood, but there they were removing them and returning our beautiful city back to normal.

I have no doubt that they will be put back into action soon as we enter fire season.

A big hero's hug goes out to the men and women in orange for working behind the scenes and often out of sight to prevent disasters. High and dry, just how we like things here in the Valley.

Vine Time

It’s that time of year when sipping a glass of our favourite Okanagan Rose or Pinot Gris on a lake-view patio makes anyone feel like they have died and gone to heaven.

But as I walked through the vineyard on a recent visit to St. Hubertus and the Hatch wineries, I couldn’t help but wonder what really goes into growing, caring for and harvesting these amazing little grapes and where did our Okanagan wine origins come from?

We have all seen the vines, scraggly in winter and all of a sudden bursting with leaves and new growth in spring and then, of course, showcasing their juicy bounty as another epic Okanagan Valley summer comes to a close around wine festival season in October.

But in addition to the glamour of the steel-fermenting tanks, the grandeur of the oak barrels lined up in caves deep beneath the earth, what about the farming?

The story came to life recently when a friend shared a video of the history of Okanagan winemaking and the efforts of Father Pandosy and others to take a difficult and  specific form of agriculture and turn it into a thriving part of our local economy and position Canada on the international wine map.

From Anthony Von Mandl to Harry McWatters, the Stewart and Fitzpatrick families to the tireless efforts of small plot growers and those that harvest these juicy nuggets at their peak, we thank you for making our lazy summer afternoon conversations just a little bit better and making the Valley the No.1 wine region in Canada by a country mile.

Cross the street

Who hasn’t been held up in traffic lately? We all have the summer snarls on our mind with paving on Lakeshore, infrastructure projects around UBCO, traffic snarls on the bridge.

But the other morning I was really glad to wait in a line of 10 cars as I made my way from Kettle Valley, through Lower Mission to downtown.

Am I crazy, you ask?

No, I was waiting at two different school crosswalks that were being run by four capable Grade 6 students.

The kids were volunteering before school even started and were doing a really solid job of ensuring that cars were held back when a sea of students raced across (walking their bikes of course) along with parents chit chatting, dogs out for their morning stroll and even some indifferent high schoolers off to meet their bus or carpool.

Kids helping kids made me feel really proud and thankful that these students were learning to lead, serve and keep their community safe when they could be playing ball, sleeping in or eating three more pancakes.

So a huge hero's high five goes out across our region to the kids on the crosswalks and a big thank you for the nice work keeping their buddies safe and between the cones.

Celebrating civic duty

I attended the 2017 City of Kelowna Civic Awards the other night as a finalist for the Fred Macklin Man of the Year Award and was blown away by the incredible community leaders who were awarded for their leadership, stewardship and community support.

From teens making the world a better place, rising athletes putting the Okanagan on the map, to every-day citizens going the extra mile, I was proud to be a part of what makes our city so special.

What struck me was the common theme of selfless service, commitment to a cause and a passion for doing good.

It's true that nobody who volunteers sets out to win awards or be recognized, they do what they do for a love of community and to give back, but it sure was nice to see our fellow citizens recognized, and it inspired me to do even more.

Kudos to the City of Kelowna for this 43-year-old tradition of celebrating civic duty.

Their dedication helps you

A big Heroes shout out goes out to all the dedicated personal trainers and fitness instructors who are keeping Kelowna in shape. 

There are many out there who can head out for a run, bike or workout without anyone reminding them, but we all know that nothing beats the motivation, planning and sometimes even downright fear of a super fit personal trainer yelling at you to drop down and give them 30 push ups or another two minutes of bicycle abs.

 he trainers I know are often up at 4 a.m. to workout themselves prior to a day and often night of training their clients. At Oranj Fitness, where I train, not only are the trainers fit, fierce and funny but they are really knowledge of body movement and the balance It takes to become fit and stay healthy. 

For everyone who works with a trainer you know what I mean and for those who don’t, try a session, a group class or boot camp; you will sweat, maybe even curse, but your body will thank you later.

Black-and-white stripes

It dawned on me on a recent rainy Saturday morning as I high-fived a young teen in a black-and-white uniform that what he was doing was rare and special.

We had just wrapped the first game of a new soccer season and after the chaos of six year olds racing around a mini field had worn off, I had an epiphany.

I realized this teen volunteer was the most nervous kid on the pitch and it was his role to keep three kids and 20 plus parents, including four enthusiastic coaches, in check, and it was his first game as a junior referee.

Imagine how hard it is to officiate any game when parents are hyper aware of the rules, the standings and, of course, want their kids to excel, win, achieve.

Sometimes we forget that a game at the age of six on a soggy, bumpy field in South East Kelowna means fun, friendship and maybe a moment worthy of talking about in the car ride home. It wasn’t about the missed call, the final score or any one player, it was about a skinny 13-year-old boy and his six-year-old peers having fun together.

So the next time you see a volunteer youth ref in any sport your kids play, high-five them and say thanks.

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.

Contact Richard at [email protected]

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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