Last year, Northlands began a tradition of honouring deserving Albertans through its Local Heroes Contest in partnership with Global Edmonton.
Winners are recognized in the K-Days Parade and receive a $2,500 donation towards a charity or not-for-profit of their choice.
Members of the public submit nominations and then judges narrow down the list to four winners. The winners also serve as honorary K-Days Parade marshals.
This year, they include a man who drove back and forth between Edmonton and Fort McMurray to deliver water to first responders during the wildfire, and a six-year-old boy who runs a hot chocolate and ice cream stand to raise money for charity.
Here are the 2016 Local Heroes:
Brenda Der – Champion of the Underdog
Brenda Der is known throughout Edmonton for supporting the less fortunate, from offering food to providing room in her home.
Der has maintained her generosity and compassion through difficult times. Devastated by the loss of her son in 2010, she recommitted to helping those in need. She originally supported this endeavour through her restaurant, B’s Diner, until its closure in 2014.
Today, she continues to provide for her community through B’s Supporting Youth Foundation.
The foundation began in 2013 when Der collaborated with the Grade 5 students at St. Richard Elementary School. Together, they developed a bagged lunch program that ensures a healthy lunch for Edmonton-area students in need. The foundation was officially registered in 2014, and students from both Edmonton Public Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools have contributed to more than 5,000 bagged lunches.
Der has been described as a compassionate individual with an immense amount of love to give. Her passion for helping those who are less fortunate is inspiring a new generation of humanitarians. We are proud to recognize her ongoing support of those in need.
Kevin Langille – Community Builder
Kevin Langille was nominated as a Local Hero by his son. As a worker for Culligan Water, Langille had to put his personal life on hold during the wildfires in the Wood Buffalo and Fort McMurray region. He tirelessly went back and forth between Edmonton and Fort McMurray, carrying supplies like food and water to first responders.
Upon hearing that Fort McMurray needed more water, he immediately dropped his vacation plans to head north to support the community.
Described by those who know him as the most hard-working man they know, Langille is one of many unsung heroes of the Fort McMurray wildfire response. We are pleased to recognize his noble and charitable actions.
Nicole Baker – Community Mentor
Nicole Baker is an enthusiastic and involved member of the Edmonton community. She offers her home and her friendship to exchange students and is known among her peers for encouraging her family and friends to support the less fortunate through organizations such as ShelterBox. Baker leads by example by participating in many walks and runs for causes, including most recently the Edmonton MS walk.
She is the founder and the current international coordinator of the Paul Kane Interact Club at her school. The Interact Club provides youth-driven volunteering at organizations such as the Edmonton Food Bank and the Mustard Seed as well as contributions towards international charitable projects.
Nominated by someone who experienced her mentorship first-hand, Baker is described as putting forth an undying effort to mentor and protect those around her. We are grateful to have her develop and work with those in the community and proud to recognize her work as a mentor.
Haylen Astalos – Young Hero
Haylen Astalos is our smallest Local Hero, but his heart far surpasses his size. At just six years old, Astalos runs a mobile stand where he sells ice cream, hot chocolate and T-shirts to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer. Additionally, he conducts bottle drives and collects donations through a GoFundMe account.
Astalos began his journey into philanthropy at five years old by selling ice cream from a small wooden stand. He has raised over $6,000 for the Ronald McDonald House and partnered with Peavey Mart in Red Deer, Boston Pizza in Blackfalds and Reverse Dealer to continue to boost his fundraising efforts.
His tenacious commitment to charity can be admired by his peers as well as those many years his senior. We are proud to recognize his generous spirit and engagement with the community.