Lacombe’s Larry Michielsen is officially a trail hero.
During Saturday’s Trails Day celebration in the city, Michielsen, president of the Bill Nielsen Trail Society, received the Alberta TrailNet Society’s Trail Hero Award.
“There’s only so many in Canada receiving this award so it’s pretty special … When somebody says ‘thank you,’ that’s all that matters,” said Michielsen.
The late Bill Nielsen, who passed away in 2014 from cancer, is the one who truly deserves the award, he added.
“This is really an award for Bill Nielsen, the creator of the trails,” he said. “It’s a beautiful area and thank god Bill had the vision to create these trails because it’s pretty important to have them.”
Nielsen would spend 40 hours a week working on the trails through summer to make sure they were in good condition. After he passed, Michielsen and a few others started the Bill Nielsen Trail Society to continue his work.
“I’m a big supporter of the trails because it is good for physical and mental health and anybody can use them,” he said.
Michielsen estimates you could travel about 16 kilometres without backtracking on the trail, whether you choose to walk or bike.
Michielsen has done a great job leading the society through its first few years, said vice-president Diane Hayduk.
“He’s done a magnificent job as president,” said Hayduk. “He’s very instrumental in getting things together and keeping us together. You always need that leader and Larry is such a positive leader when it comes to the trails.”
It was an honour to be there to see Michielsen receive the award that only a few people in Alberta were receiving, Lacombe Coun. Bill McQuesten said.
“When Bill Nielsen passed away we all felt a sense of loss for what he had done in the community’s trails and Larry just picked up the torch,” McQuesten said.
When people come to Lacombe to travel on the trails, they see some of the best in the country, McQuesten said.
“We have an envious trail system here in Lacombe. We have people from all over that go on our trails and just rave about them.
“We’ve always known we had a gem here but I don;t think most of us know how much of a gem it is,” he said.
A few dozen residents came out to enjoy Trails Day in Lacombe and to see Michielsen receive his award.
Lacombe was just one of many places celebrating Trails Day in Canada, with many other places noting the significance of The Great Trail’s connection this year.