Jason Wheeldon named Chamber’s Citizen of the Year
Cranbrook realtor and long-time community volunteer Jason Wheeldon was named as the Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Citizen of the Year during a Dec. 12 Luncheon at the Heritage Inn.
“For over 20 years Jason has made an indelible mark on this community as a mentor, volunteer, chair and coordinator for community projects, sporting activities and charitable events,” said outgoing chamber president Lana Kirk. “He’s a very deserving recipient.”
As if to provide a perfect punctuation mark to further back Wheeldon’s honour, which was endorsed by 16 letters from the community, was the announcement that the 2012 Turkey Drive, co-organized by Wheeldon, along with Warren Bedell, smashed last year’s mark with $27,400 raised.
“It’s great to see a community of 20,000 raise well over $20,000,” Wheeldon said.
His list of accomplishments and good deeds for his city are many.
As a member of the Kinsmen Club he was instrumental in organizing the Mother’s March and was a director on the board of the Kinsmen Foundation of B.C. for four years.
Cranbrook Boys and Girls’ Club executive director Gord Johnston pointed out that Wheeldon sat on the board as a director from 1994 to 2003 and as board president from 2003-06. Since leaving the board he has helped support the School Aged summer day camp program and has advised on a number of situations.
Big Brothers and Sisters executive director Dana Osiowy says Wheeldon has been an integral member of their volunteer team for more than 18 years and has made an incredible contribution to the lives of a number of young people in this community.
Wheeldon helped bring national recognition to Cranbrook as chair of the Cranbrook Winter Lights Committee, which received national honours.
His involvement with the chamber has also been extensive.
Working in partnership with the chamber and Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary, he helped steer the creation of Harmony Park and has spent many years on the chamber executive and has served as its president, too.
Loree Duczek, a past recipient of Citizen of the Year, said Wheeldon has also become a real ‘sweetheart.’
“He has become a pivotal part of the Sweetheart Program and is not only a wonderful supporter of our Youth Ambassador and candidates each year, but is a true role model for them,” she said.
Wheeldon was nominated for the honour by Heather Smith, who received 15 letters of support for her nomination.
“He’s a shining example to his family, our community and the youth of our community of volunteerism at its finest,” she stated.
Anita Llewellyn, vice governor of the BC/Yukon District of Kin Canada and Kinette Club of Cranbrook member, pointed out that Wheeldon holds a distinctive honour in the community.
“If we were holding an event he was the first person we would contact knowing his support was always going to be there. From emceeing our many events to donating silent auction items he was there. His dedication to the club earned him the esteemed position of being the only male honorary member the Kinette Club ever had,” she stated in her letter of support.
Canadian Mental Health Association’s Laurie Harris (Reed) stated that Wheeldon has been that organization’s “go to guy – assisting us as master of ceremonies at two important annual events: our Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Gala and our Chocolate Affair. Jason puts significant time and effort into preparing for these events, and truly connects with our guests through his thoughtful commentary, commanding presence and witty banter. He leads us with aplomb through our programs, taking time to recognize and appreciate participants and to tell (sometimes extremely corny) jokes and stories.”
Incoming chamber president, first vice-president Mike Adams noted that Wheeldon’s work as a past president and executive member of the chamber board was tireless.
“His expertise with policy development helped build the current policy manual for the board. Jason still volunteers his time with the chamber through the Awesome Auction, spearheading the chamber Turkey Drive, as a guest speaker at luncheons, on chamber committees, and as a facilitator of the annual chamber board strategy meeting.
“I really can’t think of someone more deserving of this prestigious award than Jason. He has spent thousands of hours volunteering his time and money to make Cranbrook a better place to live,” Adams concluded.
Former mayor and past co-worker Ross Priest said he realized early on that Wheeldon was a bonus for the city. “it was through those early years that I came to realize his deep commitment to the community and his passion for volunteering. Pretty impressive for someone in his early 20s!” He stated.
Steve Rogers, principal of Highlands Elementary School, said Wheeldon doesn’t just become involved in larger community projects.
As a parent of children at the school, he is involved in the school planning council, working with Rogers and two others on developing and approving school plans that look toward improving student achievement.
“He also helps out with plowing our sidewalks in front of the school after each snowfall, as well as helping out with many of our school events. He especially likes to help out with the barbecuing,” Rogers said.
Past Sam Steele Sweetheart Kinnon Smith (2010/11), said she was impressed by Wheeldon’s professionalism and good nature.
“He embodies everything that Cranbrook needs as a role model for the City of Cranbrook and the youth in our community. I aspire to be just like Jason in my future community that I call home,” she said.
Mayor Wayne Stetski was among the 15 voices supporting Heather Smith’s nomination of Wheeldon.
“He has a real interest in our youth,” Stetski said, “as was demonstrated this Halloween when he turned his garage into a haunted house to the delight of many children.”
Warren Bedell, Wheeldon’s friend for 20 years, said he never asks for anything in return for his volunteer efforts.
“He is truly and sincerely committed to making Cranbrook a better place to live, work and play,” he said.
Last year’s Citizen of the Year was Chris Ayling.
Above photo: Jason Wheeldon with his wife Christy.