Local heroes no longer unsung

An Elmira couple is being recognized for their contribution to the community, recipients of a Kitchener-Conestoga 150 for Canada’s 150 Award. The award, slated to recognize 150 residents, is an initiative by the area’s federal and provincial politicians, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris and hi

Last updated on May 03, 23

Posted on Jul 27, 17

4 min read

An Elmira couple is being recognized for their contribution to the community, recipients of a Kitchener-Conestoga 150 for Canada’s 150 Award.

The award, slated to recognize 150 residents, is an initiative by the area’s federal and provincial politicians, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris and his federal counterpart, MP Harold Albrecht. The pair asked for people to look at their neighbours and community contributors to nominate worthy recipients for the special Canada 150 awards honouring those who embody what it means to be Canadian.

After hearing of the contest, Jason Menkveld and his family thought of one very deserving couple, Keith and Sandy Metzger. The Metzger’s are well known in the community, having started the first sledge hockey team – The Woolwich Thrashers – after the WMC was constructed, and encouraging other community members to begin playing the sport alongside their daughter Corin.

Jason’s mother, Evelyn Menkveld, was a big influencer in the nomination process, putting the couple forward for their support and influence in Jason’s life.

“She (Evelyn) just spread the word that we all need to write letters, and it turned out perfectly,” Jason said. “I am very happy that they got it and I am very happy that Keith and Sandy have been a big part of my life through the sport of sledge hockey. I am happy that they get this honor and something given back to them for their hard work.”

“They have done so much for the community here and for our club, for sledge hockey as a sport,” said Menkveld, who has had Keith as a coach for his entire 16-year career.

He added that it was in part a combination of Metzger’s great character and the focus he puts on the kids that led to the nomination.

“He always puts the kids first and helps them to improve anyway possible. They have given so much for the sport and for the community – it is just unbelievable the amount of time they put in to it with the coaching and fundraising and all of that stuff,” Menkveld said of the Metzgers. “It is absolutely incredible.”

In Menkveld’s nomination letter, he shares his story of obstacles that didn’t allow him to play the sport he so dearly loved and the blessing of finding the sledge hockey league Keith and Sandy brought to Woolwich.

“I always dreamed of playing hockey like my siblings, but this was not possible because of my disability. Then, at the age of 13 I discovered sledge hockey and I met Keith and Sandy Metzger,” he said in his letter. “Words cannot express how thankful I am for all the time and effort these two people have put into my Sledge Hockey career and also my life in general.”

“I’m now captain of the Woolwich Thrashers intermediate squad. It’s always been a dream of mine to be captain of a team, and thanks to Keith and Sandy Metzger, I’ve fulfilled that dream. Another dream of mine was to play hockey with my siblings, and last year two of my brothers got into sleds and played on my team in our two tournaments. This would not have been possible without all the fundraising, volunteer hours and organizing that these two people have done. Their love for the sport of sledge hockey, and love for and dedication to helping kids with disabilities learn, grow and have fun is why I’m nominating them for the Canada 150 award.”

Albrecht, the local MP who administered the awards along with Harris, says they received an influx of nominations for the couple.

“I don’t think any of my nominees have more support from such a wide range of people – it is just great to see,” he said, noting they were among many fellow Woolwich and Wellesley township members.

“For the Metzgers to continue on coaching when their daughter is not involved is simply amazing. The amount of work they do outside of the actual ice time – they are doing fundraising, they are getting the sleds ready, every year they are storing them in their own home and garage and helping fit them to the people who acquire them – just a ton of off-ice involvement,” he said. “They just go above and beyond in every regard.”

The couple will be receiving the award under the sports and recreation category, although they could have accepted it under many of the other classifications. Nominations fell under 15 different categories, including community builders, good neighbours and service clubs.

“I was overjoyed. I was extremely happy that they got it because it is so well deserved,” said Menkveld. “They were so flabbergasted. That’s what made it that much better because they had no idea what was going on.”

The nomination came as a surprise to the couple who had heard briefly about the awards a few weeks before.

“I thought why would Harold Albrecht be sending us something in this big envelope, so it was somewhat of a surprise,” said Sandy.

The surprise soon fizzled after the couple had their nominators reach out. Although they are happy to be receiving the award, they do and have done what they have been doing for more than 17 years because it is what they feel is necessary.

“We are pretty modest and low-key, and we don’t do things for awards or for recognition. We do it because it needs to be done,” said Sandy.

“But we get recognition from our families,” said Keith.

“Every week they say ‘thank you,’” said Sandy.

“That is our recognition, and that’s all we need,” added Keith.

Albrecht noted the awards held true to their purpose, acknowledging the good work that people like Keith and Sandy do.

“I think it is so important. There are so many people like the Metzgers who day in and day out, week in and week out, do such good work,” he said. “That was our motivation, to say ‘OK, where are some people who might not always be recognized?’ There will be some who will be getting recognized that will get nominated for things in other places, but we have a lot of people in our riding that are unsung heroes, and Keith and Sandy are certainly two of them.”

The official award ceremony to celebrate those 150 representatives will be held at Castle Kilbride in Baden on Aug. 1.

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