Chuck Keller nominated as Westlock Small Town Hero
UFA contest could earn $10,000 for 55-Plus Summer Games
With the Alberta 55-Plus Summer Games now just one year away, the organizational board is exploring all options to reach the $1.2 million fundraising goal.
One option that looks promising, board chair Gerry St. Pierre said, is the UFA Small Town Heroes contest — so the board nominated vice-chair and facilities director Chuck Keller.
“We wanted to nominate somebody from our group, and he was the first person who came to mind,” St. Pierre said. “The more I get to know him and work with him, the more I admire him.”
For anyone acquainted with Keller, it’s clear that “hero” is one of the last words he would use to describe himself. He said he was at first reluctant to allow his name to be put forward, but decided it would be worth it to be able to raise some serious money for the games.
The top grand-prize winners will receive $10,000 for a community organization of their choice — as well as a Paul Brandt concert in the community, which would present further fundraising opportunities.
For Keller it’s not about recognizing his own contributions to the community — it’s about supporting the Games, which will be jointly hosted by Westlock, Barrhead, Westlock County and the County of Barrhead.
“If it were strictly sticking my name in, I probably wouldn’t do it,” he said. “But if they felt that we’ve got a chance of raising some funds, let’s go ahead and see what we can do.”
The way the contest is structured, official nominations for Small Town Hero closed July 22, at which time nearly 80 nominations had been received. A panel of six judges will now narrow that number down to a shortlist of 10 nominees by Aug. 3, at which point voting will resume. Their decision will be based mostly on the nominees’ impacts on their communities, with consideration given also to the creativity of the nomination and the number of votes received.
Keller’s nomination, which was prepared by games manager Marcie Mazurenko, outlines his contributions to the community using the baseball analogy of rounding the bases — quite appropriate given Keller’s long-time involvement with the sport.
He has been active with the Westlock Red Lions, Westlock Minor Ball, the Tawatinaw Valley Ski Hill, the Westlock Rotary Club, the Spirit of Westlock Foundation, and most recently, the Alberta 55-Plus Summer Games board.
His community involvement and the honours he has received as a result — including having Keller Field named after him in 2005 and receiving Baseball Alberta’s Bill Chmiliar Award of Merit for his contributions to the sport — speak for themselves. Nonetheless, Keller is quick to point out there are countless other hard-working volunteers who would be more deserving of the recognition.
“There are lot of people in the communities, both Westlock and Barrhead, who have done as much and more,” he said.
“It’s certainly a humbling experience, and nothing that I’m really out to get. You just go ahead and volunteer for the things you’re interested in without worrying about any recognition involved.”
For more information about the contest, to read the full text of Keller’s nomination or to cast a vote once voting resumes on Aug. 3, visit www.ufa.com/smalltownheroes.
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