The Cape Breton Regional Municipality presented two special volunteer awards at its April Council meeting.
The Cape Breton Dragon Boat Festival Society was named the recipient of the Gary McDonald Memorial Award, in recognition of an Outstanding Community Project. The local dragon boat festival started in 2007, and now has 28 teams participating annually. Since 2008, the Festival has raised more than $380,000, with the beneficiaries including the Cape Breastoners Dragon Boat Team, Cape Breton Special Olympics and the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation. The Festival has helped significantly with raising funds for the expansion of the Cape Breton Cancer Centre at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. The Festival has donated more than $150,000 to the Cancer Centre, provided more than $4,600 in financial assistance to cancer patients for medical-related expenses, purchased more than $4,200 in equipment for the An Cala Palliative Care Unit, and provided close to $24,000 to fund priority equipment for several departments throughout the Regional Hospital. The Dragon Boat Festival’s continued community support, its ability to bring hundreds of participants together for a common cause and provide a fun, unique way of raising funds for local charities, is outstanding and deserving of recognition.
Richard Warren, founder and organizer of the Vince Ryan Memorial Hockey Tournament, was named the recipient of the Anne Holland Memorial Award, in recognition of an Outstanding Community Volunteer. Warren had a vision of a fun hockey tournament being held in the region, with proceeds going to support area youth, in the form of scholarships. The first Vince Ryan Memorial Hockey Tournament began in 1989 with eight local teams, and has grown to host over 130 teams internationally, and has given in excess of $770,000 to students attending high schools across Cape Breton. The tournament is now believed to be the largest hockey tournament in the world and it continues to make a substantial economic impact on our region. This impact has been estimated at $5.1 million each year. The tournament also allows opportunities to welcome people from afar and to showcase the uniqueness of Cape Breton and reunion of families and friends. Warren’s friendly personality and his incredible work ethic result in mobilizing hundreds of volunteers each year. He would be the first person to credit them for their tremendous efforts and successes, but it’s Warren who can be seen year round working on ensuring the tournament’s success. The Vince Ryan Tournament’s success is a direct result of his endless hours of work, a driving passion and a clear vision of where the real benefit lay, with the kids. Warren always says that “this tournament is all about the kids…they’re the big winners with this tournament.” His hope is that the kids that receive these scholarships would get a good education and hopefully at some point, come back to their home towns, set up business and give back to the community.
The CBRM Volunteer Awards presentation is held in conjunction with the annual Provincial Volunteer Week celebration. For more information on the CBRM Special Volunteer Awards, contact the CBRM Recreation Department at 563-5510.