Hero helps splash park

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Small Town Hero runner-up Darlene Maas is near tears as she accepts tickets to see the Paul Brandt concert from Lisa Dunn

The glue that holds together the geriatric psychiatry unit at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury has been recognized as a runner-up in the UFA Small Town Heroes contest.

Darlene Maas, a unit clerk at the hospital, was presented last week with a $1,000 award and tickets to attend country singer Paul Brandt’s concert in Drayton Valley Oct. 13. Jeannette Vetter of Drayton Valley was one grand prize winner. The other was the Slave Lake Fire Department.

UFA officials made the presentation at the hospital with Maas’ family, friends and co-workers present.

“Darlene is absolutely an amazing person,” said friend and co-worker Samantha Yadlos. “She does everything for everyone else before she does for herself.”

Almost a decade ago, Maas lost her husband unexpectedly and was left to care for a blended family of five children. Over the years, she not only attended every game or event that her children were involved in, but she herself got involved as coach and scorekeeper.

For many years she has been an active member of the Ponoka Kinettes Club, including being president for the last two years. Not only has Maas helped build playgrounds for the kids of Ponoka, as president, her mission has been to raise enough money to open the Ponoka Splash Park.

“I don’t know where she gets her energy from,” Yadlos said. “She’s just the epitome of a small town hero.”

Maas was near tears as she received her prizes and thanked her supporters.

“I’m honoured. I was totally blown away by this.”

Upon receiving the $1,000 cheque, Maas immediately signed it over to the Ponoka Splash Park Committee, which is just $50,000 away from its $500,000 goal. The park is expected to open next summer.

“We’ve just about reached our goal.”

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