A Red Deerian with a talent to help non-profits develop the fundamentals to succeed, and a teen with an eye on a medical career, were both recognized for their community spirit and contributions at the 2016 Red Deer Citizen of the Year Spring Gala on Friday night.
Rod Kennedy was named Citizen of the Year and Andrew Panteluk was chosen Young Citizen of the Year.
Presented by the Rotary Clubs of Red Deer, the awards recognize leadership and commitment to the community.
Kennedy said he was humbled to receive the award and proud of the diversity of volunteer organizations in Red Deer.
“I really like the idea that this community provides you that window of opportunity. If you want to volunteer there’s lots of great opportunities to participate,” said Kennedy before the start of the gala held at Red Deer Sheraton.
He has given his time to a variety of local organizations ranging from Westerner Exposition Association, Red Deer College, Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, Red Deer Agri-trade Society, Red Deer Optimist Club, Red Deer’s Festival of Trees, and the 2019 Canada Games Host Society. He has also made a provincial impact by serving the STARS Foundation and board, and as a University of Alberta senate member.
Kennedy, 61, said over the years the sense of community in Red Deer has become stronger as the city grew and the projects have gotten bigger, like the Mastercard Memorial Cup.
“The volunteer organizations have stepped it up and grown with it. That’s just great for everybody,” said the investment advisor with RBC Dominion Securities.
Kennedy was previously named Optimist of the Year and received the 2005 Outstanding Service Award Westerner with Exposition Association, the 2005 Alberta Centennial Medal, and the 2009 Outstanding Service Award with the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise.
Panteluk, who will graduate from Notre Dame High School in June, intends to pursue a career in medicine and has volunteered in four different units at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
One year on the stroke unit he organized a Christmas party where he played violin and bought a stuffed animal for every patient. He recruited volunteers to spread the event to three other units the following year.
“I’ve known I wanted to be a doctor, but being at the hospital has just totally reaffirmed that,” said Panteluk, 17.
“For me, helping those other people, helping the vulnerable, giving compassion to those who don’t have it, is why I wanted to be a doctor.”
Panteluk took part in a Heritage Youth Researcher Summer Program and assisted physiology and neuroscience researchers.
The high school honours with distinction student has also received a variety of academic, athletic and musical awards, as well as scholarship offers to attend University of Alberta, Queens University and University of Calgary.
He said volunteering can play a major role in the lives of youth and they can use their energy to make a positive impact on their community.
“My dad was a Rotary member for as long as I can remember. Watching him serve has called me to serve as well. Rotary is such a great organization. I hope to become a Rotarian one day being able to, on a local and international level, serve those less fortunate.”