1) Diana Dunsmore and Jean Broster: They attend every Nelson Leafs home game, shaking their custom-made pom-poms. The pair — Dunsmore is 80 and Broster 84 — are a team fixture. They sit behind the players’ bench, always buy a program, always play the 50-50, and always have candy. “I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t spend our winters here,” Broster says.
2) Matti Erickson and Jordan Andrusak: These young Nelson athletes brought home bushelfuls of medals this year.
Erickson (far left) earned gold in five events at the junior development track and field championships in Nanaimo.
Andrusak (seen at left with her mother Kathy) from the Swim BC AAA provincial championships in Victoria, where she notched eight individual and team medals, including five gold.
3) Allison Girvan: The local singer and choirmaster received the Nelson Rotary Club’s vocational award of merit this year, honouring high ethics and leadership.
She also provided musical direction for the Capitol Theatre’s summer production of Sweeney Todd, and was heard on stage several times, including a rare solo performance as part of the Nelson Overture Society concert series.
4) Jackie Hodgins: The Fernie hockey mom was shortlisted for the Kraft Hockey Goes On competition celebrating contributions to the game.
She drove daughters Cori-Anne and Kimberley back and forth to Nelson 54 times in one season so they could play for the midget AAA Kootenay Wildcats.
“My mom does more to support us in our dedication to the game than any other parent I know,” Kimberley said.
5) Candace Holt: After 18 years, Holt retired as a counsellor with Nelson Community Services.
She worked with more than 1,900 women, some of whom were overcoming abuse stemming back to childhood.
“I’ve worked with a number of people who suffered horrendous abuse and now they’re doing very well,” she said. “It is most satisfying to see people heal and move toward fulfilling their potential.”
6) Lena Horswill: When she started 26 years ago with Nelson Community Services, her job paid less than unemployment insurance.
But great things happened, including the opening of supportive youth housing and a transition house for women and children.
“I’m so grateful for the board and staff,” Horswill said just before retiring. “They’ve made my professional life a dream come true.”
7) Tim Hus: The Nelson-raised musical heir to Canadian songwriting legend Stompin’ Tom Connors lost his mentor this year and served as a pallbearer at his funeral.
Connors passed the torch to Hus while the two toured together in 2009-10. “That was a pretty big thrill for me,” Hus said. “If you asked me if I could open for anybody — Johnny Cash or U2 or anybody — it would have been Stompin’ Tom.”
8) Ava Koeltgen: The 13-year-old Nelsonite tap-danced her way to Germany this year for the world championship.
She started tapping with Dance Umbrella when she was five and this fall began training in Chilliwack with 14 other dancers as part of Tap Team Canada.
What sort of music makes for good tapping? “Older music usually works better but you can tap dance to everything,” she says.
9) Bronwyn LeBlanc: The Nelson teen secured one of five seats for cellists at the National Arts Academy’s young artist program, a two-week camp.
She’s been playing for five years and spends two hours a day practicing — more on weekends.
“It started because my sister wanted to play the violin,” she said. “I saw the cello and it looked like a cool instrument. It really fascinated me from the beginning.”
10) Sebastian Lutz: The Nelson teen secured one of four spots on the PerformX Downhill development team, which trains young mountain bikers to compete at the World Cup level, and spent the summer competing in races across BC and Quebec.
Despite his cycling acumen, only recently did he consider turning pro.
“My goal is to be racing on the World Cup circuit in the next five years,” he said.
11) Kate Moran: The Nelson artist received an Insta-boost when Grammy-award winning musician Jason Mraz posted a photo of one of her macrame necklaces on Instagram and Twitter.
Within 24 hours, almost 18,000 people followed Mraz’s lead in liking the necklace (which isn’t for sale) and over 500 people started following the textile artist online.
“It was so exciting,” Moran says. “It was an Internet frenzy.”
12) Len Mulholland: During the Second World War, the Nelson retiree, now 93, was a saboteur for the Dutch resistance.
He organized air drops of weapons, blew up trains, sank ships, and generally caused misery for the Axis. He insists he wasn’t scared: “Never. We didn’t know the word.”
His own family didn’t know about his past until decades later. You can read about it in his book, Childhood, War, and Peace.
13) Maddy Murphy and Lara VonMaydell: The two L.V. Rogers students attended the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York in March.
“There are a lot of problems with how we treat women in our society. I think it’s good to start making a chance when you are young,” said Murphy (seen at left), who was inspired by attending a peacemaking camp led by Madelyn McKay.
14) Robert Neufeld and Adham Shaikh: For their collaboration on the National Geographic series Untamed Americas, the two local musical talents were nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Music and Sound.
Although they didn’t win, both enjoyed attending the awards ceremony in New York.
“We had a fun evening. It was an honour to be nominated,” Neufeld says.
15) Mitch Popadynetz: A former Nelson Youth Soccer midfielder, Popadynetz joined the UBC Thunderbirds this year and helped his team to a second straight Canada West men’s title.
He scored once as UBC routed Saskatchewan 6-1 in the championship match.
Before that, he helped Team BC win silver at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que.
16) Bryan Ralph: In April, the Nelson photographer attended the Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown in Whistler, which he calls “the holy grail of action sports photography.”
Ralph was one of five chosen for the competition, and wowed onlookers with 150 shots in a nine-minute show.
“Capturing real moments in the lifestyle side is what got me here,” he said. “That’s always been sort of my thing.”
17) Heather Robertson: The longtime L.V. Rogers and Mount Sentinel teacher set off on a learning adventure of her own early in the year, as the Bhutan Canada Foundation sent her to a high school in the Himalayas.
“I do challenge myself so I’ve always had a bit of adventure in my life,” she said. “But this is huge — nothing like what I’ve done before.”
18) Lee and Carol Rushton: Shocked by the mass shooting at a Connecticut school last year that left 26 people dead, including many children, the North Shore couple came up with a creative and cathartic project: they built birdhouses to send to the community as memorials.
Each bore the name of a victim with a butterfly attached to the front.
“Butterflies are free — that’s an old saying,” Lee explained.
19) Cst. Lisa Schmidtke: Nelson’s newest beat cop joined the department in March.
Schmidtke, who came here with her family after 11 years with the West Vancouver police, previously lived in Nelson.
“It’s a wonderful community and we’re really proud to be part of it,” she said.
Chief Wayne Holland said Schmidtke’s “personality and energy are most welcome here.” She’s the fifth woman to serve on the force.
20) Taavi Wickman: An L.V. Rogers student, Wickman participated in the BC youth parliament in Victoria, giving him a taste of politics.
Although he called the week in the legislative assembly learning about governance an “amazing experience,” he has his eyes set on Ottawa, hoping to one day become an MP: “I prefer federal politics to provincial politics.”