Honorary Colonel Tom Hedican named Kiwanis Citizen of the Year

News Article / May 16, 2017 / Project number: RCAF-20170516-001

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By Christopher Dawson

51 Aerospace Control and Warning Operational Training Squadron’s Honorary Colonel Tom Hedican has been named Citizen of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of Nipissing, North Bay, Ontario.  

“It is something I share with my family first: my wife, Nancy Ann; my dad, Ernie; and my sister and brother-in-law, Mary Lynn and Dale Hall; and certainly my late mother, Shirley, who taught us all so much about giving,” Honorary Colonel Hedican said. “It was made clear to my sister and me by my mom and dad that we were to think of other people, and to be of service."

Honorary Colonel Hedican, a professional hockey goaltending consultant, founded Coach4Food in 2005, a program inspired by rock legend Bruce Springsteen’s work with food banks around the world. Honorary Colonel Hedican’s program played a key role in North Bay, Ontario, being named Hockeyville in 2007.  

“I share this [recognition] with the entire community of North Bay,” he said. “There are thousands of young hockey players – both boys and girls, thousands of coaches, managers and parents, who supported Coach4Food like I would never have imagined. We started out collecting 1,000 pounds [454 kilograms] of food for the North Bay Food Bank, and now the program is province-wide and nearing the 1.5 million-pound [680,388-kilogram] mark. It takes an army to do something like that so there are truly plenty of people to thank, and with whom I share this.

Honorary Colonel Hedican will be fêted at the Kiwanis Citizen of the Year dinner on May 25, 2017.

“I am so humbled and appreciative of this award from the Kiwanis Club,” he continued. “It is such an outstanding organization and does amazing work, here in North Bay and all over the world. When you think of Kiwanis, you think of children, and they have been the driving force behind Coach4Food.”

Tom Hedican was born in North Bay and graduated from Scollard Hall High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph, Ontario, and a journalism diploma from North Bay’s Canadore College. He has received particular acclaim for his volunteerism in the form of the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Voluntarism in Ontario.

He was appointed honorary colonel of 51 Aerospace Control and Warning Operational Training Squadron at 22 Wing North Bay in September 2014. “What has struck me the most about these men and women,” Honorary Colonel Hedican said at the time, “is the depth of their dedication to their jobs and to their country. Nothing is too much to ask from them. Nothing is insignificant to them. Through them, I have learned the true meaning of respect. They don’t talk about it, they live it. They show it to each other, to our community and our country.”

“Tom has been recognized around the Province of Ontario for his leadership of the Coach4Food program,” North Bay councillor and Kiwanis Citizen of the Year chair Chris Mayne said via social media. “But his most emotional recognition was today, by his hometown. Thank you to the selection committee, including Sharon Fung, Stu Campaigne, Tanya Vrebosch, Clarke Heipel and Ralph Celentano, for their efforts and thoughtfulness with this year's selection.”

Chris Dawson is a journalist with BayToday online newspaper.

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