EDMONTON — This year, Edmontonians had the chance to nominate individuals they feel are community champions and deserve to be recognized as honorary parade marshals in the K-Days Parade on Friday, July 17. Now, after weeks of speculation, the winners have been revealed.
In years past, a local celebrity or sports team is chosen to lead the parade. This year, Northlands decided to honour local heroes and asked Edmontonians to nominate someone they felt deserved to be thanked for their work in the community.
The categories include: a Champion of the Underdog, a Comeback Hero, a Community Builder, a Community Mentor, a Patron of the Arts, and a Young Hero, each chosen for their various contributions to the community.
The winners are: Claire Pearen, Dan (Can Man) Johnstone, Kelly Micetich, Kyle Hazelhurst, Francisco Yu, and Sophia Qaderi.
Champion of the Underdog – Claire Pearen
Pearen has been described as the type of person that always goes above and beyond to make someone’s day. She is known for her smile, her random acts of kindness, her willingness to lend an ear to those who need to talk, and for always collecting clothing items for charities that help the homeless and underprivileged.
Comeback Hero – Can Man Dan (Dan Johnstone)
Johnstone grew up in a low-income home that often had to rely on the Edmonton Food Bank to supply the food they could not afford. Now, Dan is an anti-poverty activist, speaker, philanthropist, and community organizer who collects food for that very organization. He started going door-to-door for the Food Bank in 2011 after graduating high school and finding his way to a well-paying job. Since 2012, he has raised over $33,000 and 26,000 kilograms of food. When Johnstone isn’t collecting for the Food Bank, he is lending his time and efforts to organizations such as the Bissell Centre, Operation Friendship, or passing out care packages to the homeless.
Community Builder – Kelly Micetich
Micetich is the president of the Board of Directors of The Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area (BGCBigs). She invests a significant amount of time and energy in establishing the organization’s direction, speaking publicly on behalf of the organization and the mentoring movement, and educating herself on issues faced by the children and youth it serves. She is an enthusiastic mentor and role model for less-experienced board members and staff and her passion for helping children and social justice is said to be infectious.
Community Mentor – Kyle Hazelhurst
Hazelhurst is a true community mentor dedicated to helping youth succeed. He has coached many athletes throughout the years who have gone on to play for post-secondary schools. He is passionate about keeping youth involved in sports and has volunteered in this capacity for over a decade in junior and senior high schools as well as within his own club, Park Elite. He has also worked on ways to offset costs of sport, hoping to make participation possible for all. Over the past decade, Hazelhurst has been a mentor and coach, and has sought private donations to ensure that players who were struggling financially would be able to play.
Hazelhurst is committed to including athletes with disabilities in the game by bringing out their potential and has given hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours over the past few years to that cause. He has been able to establish four teams, including a very competitive U-17 young men’s team that won medals provincially and nationally since 2012.
Patron of the Arts – Francisco Yu
Yu is the vice president of the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Music Competition, a musician, an advocate, and a mentor. In his musical career, he is a piano and violin teacher. He mentors students in classical music and encourages local music development. As the Canadian Music Competition’s vice president, he sits on the National Board of a classical music competition and helps facilitate the event. When he is not giving his time to the arts, he works to give back to his community as an Outreach Coordinator. He offers counselling and life coaching, and advocates for high standards of living for the people of our community who are 55 and older.
Young Hero – Sophia Qaderi
Qaderi has been volunteering for various causes and organizations since she was 11 years old. Her love for volunteering began when she was sewing and donating clothing for homeless shelters from her parents’ tailor shop.
Now, she volunteers her time and effort for causes that help people around the world. For the past five years, Qaderi has been collecting school supplies for Afghan and Indian children. Last year, she went to India and gave out money to the less fortunate she had saved by working a part-time job. She has also raised over $1,700 that will be used for children’s education and food for families in Afghanistan. She has helped collect toys for St. Albert Victim Services and the Stollery Children’s Hospital, helped plan events and activities for the Youville Home in St. Albert, mentored elementary school children, volunteered for the Hope Mission, and is currently working with a club at her school to raise money to build a clinic in Kenya.
The parade marshals selected received $2,500 to donate to a charity or community cause of their choice.