Known best for his stingy goaltending that helped Canada win a gold medal in the 1955 World Hockey Championship, it is now for his many selfless acts Ivan McLelland is being honoured this week.
The Penticton Okanagan Rotary Club is presenting its inaugural honourary Paul Harris Fellow to McLelland, to recognize him as an unsung citizen of Penticton.
“It may not be a list with Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky on it, but this is still a great honour and past winners have included Mother Teresa,” said Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan president Malcolm Paterson. “Ivan is known for his international hockey exploits, but he has embraced and worked so hard for local humanitarian projects.”
The Paul Harris Fellow is named after the founder of the Rotary movement and symbolizes a donation of $1,000 made in honour of the recipient to the Rotary Foundation, which sponsors humanitarian and educational projects around the world. While Paterson said McLelland is by no means an unknown name in Penticton circles, but certainly is unsung in his untiring support of many local humanitarian causes.
McLelland said it stems back to lyrics from a song someone pointed out to him when he was just 16 years old.
“He who would walk a mile just to hold an empty hand, knows what it is like to be a wealthy man,” McLelland said. “Those words have stuck with me every since.”
While hockey will always be a part of his life, the 85-year-old said being able to help the community that was so good to him while he was playing for the V’s and after his career is what inspires him now.
“Hockey never leaves you, but this part, being able to help others is so important. I remember taking Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks) to Village by the Station where there was a man with an empty hand, in that he had suffered a serious stroke. Duncan grabbed his hand and told him how proud he was there to be with him, because that man was a war hero. I asked Duncan afterwards how that felt and he said it was the best thing that had happened to him in a long time,” said McLelland.
Just one of many examples of McLelland paying back to the community, whether that is with his time or helping raise money.
Still an ardent fan of the present day Penticton Vees, and proclaimed their roving ambassador, McLelland is a selfless supporter of charities. Some of the proceeds from the sale of his book Gold Mine to Gold Medal and Beyond, capturing his time as a gold mine worker to his days playing at the world championship and attracting the attention of the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers, went to the Good Samaritan Village by the Station and the Alzheimer Society. Much of his hockey memorabilia resides at Village by the Station for the enjoyment of the residents. In recent years, he has helped raise funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association, including their annual Ride Don’t Hide cycling event held last weekend.
Most recently, McLelland has contributed, both an inspiration story and promotional support, to In The Moment, the soon-to-be-published fourth anthology in Gary Doi’s popular Inspiring Hope book project. All proceeds will be donated to the Children’s Wish Foundation.
Unsung citizen award
The Penticton Okanagan Rotary Club plans to honour an unsung citizen every three months and is requesting nominations from the public.
“We are hoping to recognize the unsung folks, who might not be in the news all the time for their contributions but are still giving back to the community in a tremendous way,” said Paterson. “The real award here is that people in your community recognize all that you do for others in this city.”
If you know of a person worthy of recognition on the basis of selfless contributions to the community submit a nomination in writing, along with a list of the nominee’s community service activities to Penticton Okanagan Rotary Club, Box 1084, Penticton, B.C. V2A 6J9 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations must be received by Aug. 15, 2016 for the next Paul Harris Fellow and should be no longer than two pages.
Include your name and contact information, and if possible, the name and contact information for a secondary nominator.