Whistler Excellence Awards finalists announced 

Annual gala honouring resort's best set for april 30

click to flip through (2) EXCELLENCE AWARDED - The 2019 Whistler Excellence Awards are slated for April 30 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
  • excellence awarded
  • The 2019 Whistler Excellence Awards are slated for April 30 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

the whistler chambeR of Commerce has revealed the finalists for this year's Whistler Excellence Awards, an annual celebration of the resort's best and brightest set for next month.

Hosted by the chamber in partnership with the Community Foundation of Whistler, Arts Whistler and the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, the awards recognize excellence in several service areas, including innovation, sustainability, leadership in the arts, and business and community service.

Up for Citizen of the Year are three men whose charitable efforts have reached far beyond the resort's boundaries: Dave Clark, the Whistler Half Marathon founder who has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight cancer and Crohn's and colitis; Pat Montani, who co-founded non-profit Bicycles for Humanity (B4H); and Keith Reynolds, founder of Playground Builders, a charity that build playgrounds in war-torn areas across the Middle East. (Reynolds could not be reached by deadline.)

"We're such an amazing community that tends to give, give, give, and there are so many other people that would be so well suited to this (award) as well, so to think of the people you're surrounded with this group ... it's just a real honour to be recognized," said Clark, who has helped raise about $170,000 for the oncology ward at the BC Children's Hospital through the half marathon, as well as approximately $323,000 for Crohn's and Colitis Canada through the annual Balding for Dollars fundraiser. Clark is also an active coach in local youth sports.

Montani and his wife first launched Bicycles for Humanity in 2004, and have since facilitated the donation of roughly 170,000 bikes to more than a dozen different countries.

In 2017, the Montanis were awarded Canada's higest service honour, the Governor General's Meritorious Service Honour.

B4H now counts 15 chapters worldwide, and has its sights set on building the world's largest mountain bike park in northern Uganda.

"People in Whistler understood the value of a bicycle, and the community, at a grassroots level, has been hugely supportive for the last 15 years," Montani said. "Bicycles for Humanity will always be a part of me."

Up for Business Person of the Year are: business strategist James Kirkwood of Kirkwood Consulting Group; Jerry and Sana Marsh, owners of grocery store Creekside Market; and Pique publisher Sarah Strother of Whistler Publishing.

Nominees for the Rising Star of the Year Award, presented to business leaders 39 and under who have given back to the community and demonstrated "outstanding success at a young age," are: Jeanette Bruce, program coordinator at the Whistler Public Library and youth choir leader; Fairmont Chateau Whistler Executive Chef Isabel Chung, who has spearheaded the ELLEvate TogetHER dinner as a way to bring together female leaders in support of the Canadian Cancer Society; and Court Larabee, Whistler Blackcomb's inaugural Indigenous relations specialist and vice-president of the Sea to Sky chapter of the First Nations Snowboard Team, which is dedicated to empowering Indigenous youth.

This year also sees the return of the Above and Beyond category, which recognizes an individual who has made a major contribution to the community. Nominees are: Terry Clark, director of operations for Gibbons Whistler; Jackie Dickinson, longtime outreach worker and current director of the Whistler Community Services Society; and Barrett Fisher, head of Tourism Whistler.

In the running for the Whistler Champion of the Arts and Culture Award are: Cheximiya Allison Burns-Joseph, a traditional Salish weaver and coordinator of the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre's Youth Ambassador program; painter and arts educator Andrea Mueller; and theatre artist, educator and children's entertainer Ira Pettle.

Alpine Riding, which offers North America's first guided A-Ride tours; the Pangea Pod Hotel, Canada's first boutique pod hotel; and bike-frame protection kit producer Ridewrap will vie for the Innovative Business of the Year award.

Sea to Sky Soils, organic juice bar and café Naked Sprout, and the Innovation Building Group are up for the Sustainability in Action Business Award, handed to a local business that has shown "considerable positive impact in advancing sustainability," according to the chamber.

In the Whistler Experience Service category for small business, which recognizes excellence in customer service, Forged Axe Throwing, Escape Route Whistler, and Peaked Pies are nominated. The Beacon Pub & Eatery, Mongolie Grill Whistler, The Chalet-Fairmont Hotels and the Whistler Public Library are finalists in the large business category.

The Whistler Excellence Awards are set for April 30 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. More info and tickets are available at whistlerchamber.com.


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