Caissie recognized by Sask Sport for volunteer work with Special Olympics Melfort

Sask Sport Photo The graphic recognizing Tony Caissie as a recipient of a Sask Sport Award.

For the first time since 2019, supporters from Saskatchewan and across Canada gathered in Saskatoon in person to celebrate the finalists and recipients of the 2022 Saskatchewan Sport Awards.

Special Olympics Melfort’s Tony Cassie was among those who received the Volunteer Dedication Awards in late January. Caissie said it was an honor to receive the award.

“We have so many good athletes who have been involved in the organization for many, many years,” Caissie said.

“We also currently have a good group of volunteers on site who we have been able to recruit for voluntary work in recent years.”

Caissie was in Mexico and was unable to attend the awards ceremony. His longtime curling volunteer, Brian Kjelshus, accepted the award on his behalf. Kjelshus also spoke for Sask Sport in the award video.

“That was really nice,” Caissie said. “We get along really well. We have a great team. Brian and I were both on the executive along with Marlene (Earl) and others, so really (it’s) a good group on the executive.”

Sask Sport Photo The recipients of the 2022 Saskatchewan Sport Awards on stage in Saskatoon.

Caissie was nominated for the award by Special Olympics Saskatchewan. He is a key part of the Special Olympics Melfort Committee and has volunteered for the organization for more than 10 years, currently as the program coordinator.

Over the past year, Special Olympics Melfort has hired a new recreational and competitive swim coach who is a junior volunteer.

“We have a lot of older volunteers, but sometimes, like many organizations, there are difficulties in recruiting younger volunteers,” he said.

“(New volunteers) are great to see, you know. (They have) different ideas and fresh blood.”

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In his duties, Special Olympics Saskatchewan wrote, Caissie goes above and beyond normal duty. He assists with organizing meetings, applying for grants, registration, community accreditation, as well as volunteer and athlete recruitment and facility bookings.

Caissie was familiar with Special Olympics before becoming heavily involved. He was originally asked to join the board by Ron Holliday, Grand Knight of the Melfort Knights of Columbus.

“He mentioned at the meeting that Knights Special Olympics is really an important organization for the Knights and they needed someone to sit on the board for Special Olympics,” Caissie said.

“My initial involvement (with) was purely as a board member and not really familiar with the role it would play and it just flowed from there. (I went) from volunteering on the board team to helping with bowling and helping with curling and a few other programs. It really just flowed from there.”

In 2020-21, Caissie was also named the winner of the Special Olympics Saskatchewan Bob Peddie Memorial Award, presented to a longtime volunteer for his dedication to Special Olympics in the province.

Caissie said that Special Olympics Melfort is a great organization

“If anyone is interested in volunteering with Special Olympics, we’re always looking for new volunteers to get on our boards and just get a feel for it or volunteer in some of our sports,” he said.

He added that they are looking for new sports and athletes.

“An example would be ice hockey. We used to have hockey and then the volunteer who was for hockey (program) decided not to volunteer anymore so that kind of ended.

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Although the Special Olympics are successful at Melfort, Caissie said they could always use some help.

“That’s what we’re really always looking for – new volunteers and even someone to just come to a meeting or curling one night just to get a sense of who we are and what we do, and we definitely never will regret getting involved,” Caissie said.

The annual program celebrates the success and dedication of the province’s amateur athletes in two categories – Excellence Awards and Recognition Awards. The Excellence Awards recognize outstanding event achievement or a series of achievements by a Saskatchewan athlete, coach or team within a specific calendar year, while the Recognition Awards include the Volunteer and Coach Dedication Awards as well as the Inspire Through Sport Award, all honoring individuals who have contributed their Have dedicated time and effort to the growth of the sport in Saskatchewan.

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