Ann Holmes

Ann Holmes

Holmes takes Hortons honour in Vernon

Tim Hortons Leadership in Sport award Wednesday night

Ann Holmes was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer two weeks before last Christmas.

Holmes processed the information, smiled and resumed her life as one of Vernon’s most valuable sports boosters and volunteers.

Holmes, 67, a mother of four and grandmother of eight, was honoured with the Tim Hortons Leadership in Sport award Wednesday night at the VantageOne Soccer Centre.

“Awesome,” beamed Holmes, when asked how her scrap with cancer is going. “I’ve only had hair loss. I had no reaction to the chemo or the surgery. My husband (Bob) says I’m a horse, with affection. Guess I’m a tough, old bird.”

Holmes has worked behind the scenes on scores of softball, fastball, volleyball, curling and lacrosse events.

She is also the funding allocator for KidSport, which raises and distributes money for children in need to get involved in sports. She has handled more than $250,000 in Greater Vernon since 2001. The program helps more than 250 kids a year.

Holmes gets things done, often in a hurry, and never says no when asked to contribute, traits which won her a Sport B.C. President’s Award a few years ago.

“I’ve backed out quite a bit only because I’m getting too old to do all this stuff,” she laughed. “My dad was involved so it just carried on. I get satisfaction of being involved in helping people like the KidSports program. It’s so nice to be able to help people get into sports because I think sports is really important in people’s lives. I just feel I have something to give.”

In between, she visits her kids and grandchildren in Alberta, runs programs for parks and rec and lines up one-to-one readers for Ellison School.

A Level 2 certified curling official, Holmes has worked at some major spiels, including the 2008 World Ford Women’s in Vernon.

Recreation services director Doug Ross, who attended the awards ceremony, met Holmes at a Level 3 coaching course and soon after, hired her to help with volleyball leagues and several drop-in sessions.

“She is KidSport, no doubt about that,” said Ross, in a past interview. “Ann gets it done. I mean it affectionately: she’s a pit bull. We pay her but not much. She does it more out of the goodness of her heart. We’ve already told her she can’t leave.”

Holmes and her husband started a family in Woodinville, Wash. before moving to Vernon in 1991. They have three kids: Jon, 39; Becky, 37; and Miles; 36. Ann has a step-son, Jeff; 46, in Toronto.

The Tim Hortons Athlete of the Year trophy winner was snowboard cross superstar Kevin Hill, who is training at Las 2 Alps in France.

Hill remained upbeat despite crashing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. He finished second in the snowboard cross small final and eighth overall.

“My mom (Arleigh) and dad (Don) have helped me along the way the most,” he told The Morning Star via Facebook. “It was a struggle after not making the 2010 Olympics but my parents were in full support of me continuing.

“As everyone knows, boarder cross is a battle every time you race. You can train all year long, win time trials the day before the race and still get taken out first round.”

Hill, who turns 30 on June 27, struck gold in the Canadian snowboard cross championship at the Sport Chek Speed Nationals last March at Ski Chantecler, an hour outside Montreal.

Hill, who has more than 40 World Cup boardercross starts, started snowboarding at age 19.

“I’ve really enjoyed the ride of my snowboard career, it most definitely wasn’t what I thought I would be doing as a professional sport. BMX was what I really loved growing up and then I happened to stumble upon SBX and it’s taken me all over the world.

“The adrenaline rush you get from racing down the hill at 50-90km hitting big jumps and turns, being airborne is definitely my favourite part of snowboarding.”

Past athlete-of-the-year winners include: PGA golfer Chris Baryla, NHLers Brent Gilchrist, Brad Larsen and Jason Podollan, CIS quarterback Ryan Reid, amateur golfer Jackie Little and volleyball star Kim Exner.

Team-of-the-Year went to the Watkin Motors Mustangs, winners of the 45th Vernon Coca-Cola Pee Wee Hockey Classic and the B.C. Tier 2 championships in Fort St. John. Head coach Wes Elliott was assisted by Mike Weir, Jason Boden and Stacy Roest.

“It felt really great to win this award: throughout the whole season, we all stuck togther and bonded,” said Mustang captain Jacob Boden, 12, a big fan of the Montreal Canadiens and Brendan Gallagher.

“Our coaches did an excellent job at leaning us in the right way and encouraging us for tournaments and provincials. They were both amazing. It was cool to win the Carnival (tourney) at home, but the provincials was really amazing.”

The Grade 7 Kidston Elementary student was joined by several teammates, including alternate captains Connor Elliott and Steel Quiring.