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Dexter Burden is Volunteer Central’s Volunteer of the Month

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Written by Ryan Charles Parker // Photo: Red Deer Vipers

Consistency. That is what defines a person as good in whatever they choose to do. For instance, there are many good hockey players; players of such talent that it is difficult to understand why one is successful and the other not. The crucial difference that separates the two is the ability to show up every night and bring their best.

It is that way in the community. Many people donate time and money and everyone should be grateful for that. But some people do so in a significant manner. One of these people is Dexter Burden.

“When I’m in need of a volunteer,” says Michelle Skilnick, General Manager and Director of Hockey Ops for the Red Deer Vipers he’s the first one I call as I’m involved with a few different organizations and he can do more than sell 50/50s.”

He is able to do more than sell 50/50s, but he is still very good at doing so. Dexter has sold 50/50s at a large array of events. He has done the 50/50s for the Red Deer Vipers for 5 years. He also helps the club with equipment management for practice and gets to travel with the team to away games.

But this is only a fraction of the volunteer work that he has put in. As Skilnick explains, “He has volunteered at the Glencross Rodeo for 2 years, CFR for 2 years, Westerner Days Parade this year, Red Deer Rustlers Senior AA team last season, Eckville Eagles/Lacombe Generals Senior AA team 2 seasons, Hockey Alberta Foundation events, and Hockey Canada events.”

Wherever there is a what, there’s a how, and Dexter told me that he finds value in the work that he does. “I love helping others and like for other people know there (are) still people in the world that care to help.”

That is a very beautiful motive, and makes his work even more important. But he will tell you himself that he does get perks for his volunteering.

To give two examples, he worked the Memorial Cup when it was in Red Deer and had the opportunity to take a picture with now NHL star Mitch Marner, who happens to be Dexter’s favourite Maple Leaf player. And when he was working the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he got to see the Gold Medal Game between Canada and Sweden.

Well, Volunteer Central cannot provide the presence of an elite professional hockey player, nor the thrill of a final game of an international tournament, but we can recognize someone as being the Volunteer of the Month, and Dexter surely deserves the award. Congratulations, Dexter!

Do you know a volunteer that you would like to recognize in the community? Tell us about them! Nominate an individual here: https://bit.ly/2RbzVAd

Volunteer Central strives to build a strong, connected and engaged community through volunteerism.

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Gretzky Was Magic, Now He Sees It

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Gretzky Was Magic, Now He Sees It

If you ever watched Wayne Gretzky – or even if you know the reputation but have never seen him in action – you probably know one of his major skills. Largely due to his dad’s early encouragement, Wayne developed a sense of where the puck was going long before his rivals zeroed in.

The advantages of his anticipation were obvious, of course., probably the biggest reason why he collected more than 200 points in four separate seasons and his National Hockey League records for career points (2,857), goals (894), assists (1,963) and hat tricks (50) are still unchallenged long after his retirement.

One memory in particular stands out for me. It didn’t lead to a goal, or even a point but I’ll never forget it. Gretzky was alone near the opposing net when line mate Dave Hunter got tied up scuffling for a loose puck. Gretzky left the zone and went, uncovered, to a corner about 30 feet away. Immediately, the puck followed him.

“..what he’s got is unique hockey sense…”

Gretzky picked up the puck and made an easy pass back to the point, then left for the bench. Later, I asked what prompted him to change position. “There was only one place for the puck to go,” he smiled.

I learned something shocking this week: that talent for reading the future has followed the game’s all-time leading offensive player into outlining many of the possibilities in the upcoming playoff series between his old team, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Please note, there is no suggestion here that Gretzky, or anyone else, predicts the future. But several pages in “Stories of the Game” leave the clear suggestion that he might have done it in this case.

The book was co-written by Gretzky and Kirstie McLellan Day several years ago, just as Connor McDavid was establishing himself in Edmonton as one who needs only time (and freedom from injury) to join the roster as one NHL’s greatest ever. “He’s already started to drive the bus,” says one sentence that also mentions Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau and Maurice (Rocket) Richard. “McDavid makes everyone better.”

One paragraph later, Darnell Nurse is described as “a Kevin Lowe type” and the long-ago (much under-rated) Charlie Huddy is seen as a role model for Oscar Klefbom. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, in whatever role he plays, reminds Gretzky of winners like Kenny Linseman and Mark Lamb – who were not fully appreciated on teams as powerful as the Oilers dynasty. “I think we’ll see more success now (in Edmonton) with McDavid at the centre.”

It was equally instructive to read occasional references to what weapons Chicago could unfurl, recognizing the claim by some astute fans that Hawks’ sub-par record should not have given them a berth in the playoffs.

Only twice since 2007-08 has Jonathan Toews surpassed 70 points in a season, but his leadership qualities and consistency are beyond question. At one time, he was the third-youngest team captain in NHL annals, behind only Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier. Early last season, Toews rivalled Patrick Kane as Chicago’s leading scorer but the gifted Kane was back on top by the end of the partial season cut short by COVID-19.

Says Gretzky, whose skill with the puck remains legendary, “Kane has probably the softest hands in the game.”

In addition, “what he’s got is unique hockey sense.”

Well, Wayne, you’ve finally led to the perfect old cliché: It Takes One to Know One.

Our sports history has value

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Quitting gave me better health, my dignity and more cash

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Quitting gave me better health, my dignity and more cash

I had this terrible constant cough. It was like I had a cold that never went away. When I did actually get a cold it was like I was never getting any better. I also began noticing that when I would cough I would release a small amount of urine. After a while as the cough progressed the urine would come out in larger quantities. I could no longer wear just a panty liner I was wearing full sized extra absorbent pads. When I was out with family and friends having a good time, I would laugh and start choking uncontrollably forcing so much urine out that I would wet through my pants and have to go home. Even if I just went to the bathroom I would still wet myself. I thought at 38 I would be in Depends.

I had thought about quitting smoking many times but I think stress was my number one deterrent from quitting. Every time I was gonna try, something would cause me stress, I had myself tricked into thinking that smoking was the only way I could deal with stress. Stress came from everywhere, work home and finances.

I tried to quit before on two occasions however, I was not successful on either one.  The first time I used the patch, but couldn’t break the habit. The second time was with Champix and I was smoke-free for approximately 2 and a half months when I said to a friend that smokes that I was having a craving.  She said sometimes you just need one to take the edge off and gave me a cigarette. I stopped and bought a pack on my way home.

This time I used the Champix again. I stopped constant communication with friends and family who smoke. I misplaced the last 2 weeks of the Champix program and had no clue where the pills went, but I just keep telling myself I can do it. When I have a craving I give myself something to do so I don’t think about it- shift the focus. Also in the past I noticed that when I have cigarettes I don’t crave as much and when I was almost out or out, I smoked what I had quickly or felt like I was dying until I could get some. My other secret is I still have an opened package of cigarettes to help curb cravings. I don’t want to get rid of them or I’ll want them.

Now, I feel like I can breathe better, smell better and everything tastes better. That nasty constant cough was gone about 2 weeks after I quit. I still have a bit of a cough but no longer pee when I cough. I hated the life that whenever I coughed I peed. All I had to do was stop smoking. I can laugh and enjoy myself without choking. It’s amazing! I wish I never started smoking. I used to use a ton of salt on my food now I can enjoy a meal without any salt, food tastes so much better. When a smoker is sitting next to me I don’t want to be rude but they stink so bad I gag. I feel so bad that my boyfriend had to smell that on me every day.

I suggest any smoker Quits! If there is anything you can change about yourself for the better its quit smoking. I wish I would have the first time because my health was heading on a downward slope and now I feel more alive and energetic like I was when I was a kid. Distance yourself from others who smoke or that aren’t supportive. I started the Champix late December 2019 and started back at school on January 6, 2020. I said I wouldn’t smoke on that day but I did have just one, so January 7, 2020 became my quit date. It was hard at first but I stuck it out and I am glad I did. The PCN Family Nurse gave me good advice and support; I really appreciate that!

Read more success stories from the Primary Care Network.

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june, 2020

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