Sport Central held its AGM on December 6th. Thank you to all our members and volunteers who were able to make it despite the frigid temperatures. A warm shout out to Acapella Catering for providing a delicious meal enjoyed by all who attended.
Every year, Sport Central recognizes volunteers who have made outstanding contributions, with Volunteer Service Awards.
This year our recipients were Dirk Kos and Bob Krewenchuk!
This year’s Volunteer Service Award Winner is a very fitting choice with the 30th Anniversary of Sport Central this past year. We have recorded 1991 as the beginning of his involvement with us, but we now know he was volunteering and helping in the background when our charity was still in the conceptual stage.
It became evident quickly in his life, this volunteer loved fixing things and using his hands and mind to solve problems. His love for bicycle repair and maintenance began at the young age of 13, when he began working as a bike mechanic in Holland. He eventually enrolled in a Motorcycle Repair program where the first part of the course focused on bicycles. He eventually moved to Canada in 1982 with his wife, Mary, and their three young children. His fourth child was born just a few months after they immigrated.
Dirk Kos began a 13-year career at United Cycle in 1983 and was quickly promoted to Manager of the bicycle department. He had a few nicknames back then, one of them being “Dutch Dirk”. It was at United Cycle that Dirk discovered the need for modifications and special equipment for people with disabilities.
He was always willing to help out on initiatives in the community and outside of work. Wilf Brooks got him involved building shelves or setting up tables for Sport Equipment EXPOs that were an early precursor in the development of Sport Central.
The demand for designing and manufacturing special mobility equipment grew to the point where Dirk decided to leave United Cycle and start his own business, Specialty Designs, which he founded in 1996. It started in his two car garage and soon expanded to an 800 square metre shop which he built on an acreage east of Edmonton.
In 2000, new horizons opened again for Dirk and wife Mary when they visited an orphanage in Vicente Guerrero, Mexico and discovered an overwhelming need for special equipment for people with disabilities. For the next six years, they travelled back and forth with adaptive wheelchairs and equipment. They felt a call to respond to a growing demand and responded by selling Specialty Designs in 2006 and moving to Vicente Guerrero to establish an outreach program providing both adaptive equipment and specialised education to children and youth with disabilities.
After 11 years in Mexico, Dirk and Mary returned to Canada in 2017, and in spite of health challenges, Dirk took up regular volunteer work with Sport Central and You Can Ride 2’s ‘Borrow A Bike’ program.
It was one of Dirk’s custom-made bicycles that started the ‘Borrow A Bike’ program. Now, over 90 Specialty Designs bikes are part of the You Can Ride 2’s fleet of nearly 200 adaptive bikes and handcycles. Dirk’s vision created an infrastructure of tool stations, workbenches and volunteer mechanics to ensure that all kids would be able to experience the joy and freedom of riding a bike.
At the same time Dirk was building the You Can Ride 2 program, he was coming over to Sport Central’s Bike Shop to repair bicycles for our kids. We would provide him with some bikes and parts for the customization needed for disabled children to ride. He didn’t accept anything for free and paid for the resources we gave him through sweat equity.
Dirk decided to slow down a bit more in recent years, ending his involvement with the You Can Ride 2 program but still volunteering at Sport Central once or twice per week for as long as he can stand next to a Bike stand. This past summer he added on extra shifts because I called and asked him for more help.
I have never seen Dirk in a bad mood and when you tease him, he is quick with a rebuttal and comment. We are blessed to have him on the Team!
For over 30 years of periodic volunteer commitment to the Sport Central Bicycle Program, and to children with mobility challenges across the Continent, please join me in recognizing our first Sport Central Volunteer Service Award winner for 2022, Dirk Kos!
Our next Volunteer Service Award Winner has spent most of his time working in the Sport Equipment Warehouse. He grew up playing hockey as a goalie and continued for as long as he could, until his knees and back wouldn’t allow it. In 2003, he was involved with the Maple Leaf Athletic Club at the time, joining other members of the Alumni Association in volunteering at our charity.
This honoree was once an Edmonton Police Officer serving for 36 years. Ret. Chief Robert (Bob) KREWENCHUK wanted to be a police officer for as long as he could remember. He tried joining the Edmonton Police Department in the early ’60’s but was rejected because he did not meet the City’s minimum hiring guideline of 150 lbs. As a result, Bob was hired by Edmonton Transit, driving a bus for two years. After gaining the necessary weight, approximately 10 pounds, Bob was accepted and began his police career on March 21, 1966 with the Edmonton Police Department.
Bob was always proud to have served as one of the first Canine handlers, with his partner, German Shepherd ‘Chip’ , and was one of the original Task Force (SWAT) members of Edmonton Police Department in the early 1970’s. During his SWAT experience in the US, Bob was selected for specialised training as a sniper. For several decades, Bob held the school record for the longest bullseye shot. His target is still in a frame at the Training Centre to this day.
Bob has shared stories over coffee and cookies of high-risk incidents when his Tactical Unit was called upon and he set up on a rooftop with the target in his crosshairs. Luckily, he was never asked to take a shot.
Bob was promoted to Detective/Sergeant in the fall of 1977, and worked in numerous areas, including Patrol, DART, Downtown Front Desk, CID, Arson, and Serious Crimes. In 1982, Bob was part of the Police Response team called to the home of Peter Pocklington when the Oilers owner and his wife were taken hostage at gunpoint. Bob retired from the Edmonton Police Service in February of 1997 as a Detective in the Dangerous Offenders Section.
In continuing with his policing career, Bob was called out of retirement and hired as the Chief of Police for the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Police Service on June 15, 1997 and retired for a second time on January 18, 2002.
A major highlight of his career was receiving the Medal of Bravery from Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor and the Star of Courage from Canada’s Governor General in 1978. This as a result of rescuing several children from a house fire in Edmonton’s inner-city while he was off-duty.
Bob is a previous recipient of the Kiwanis Award for Outstanding Community Service for years of Community involvement in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. He still works as an off-ice official in the Western Hockey League, volunteering with the Maple Leaf Athletic Club in various capacities for over 40 years. Last year Bob was presented with a Hockey Edmonton Lifetime Achievement Award.
For 19 years of volunteering in our Equipment Warehouse, as well as serving on the Sport Central Board including acting Vice President, let’s celebrate and recognize our second Sport Central Volunteer Service Award winner for 2022, Bob Krewenchuk!