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Ponoka Stampede volunteer recognized for dedication

A Ponoka Stampede volunteer was given special recognition for his dedication to the rodeo.
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Mike Williams was recognized by the Ponoka Stampede this year with the Errol McMillan volunteer award. It’s a special award for volunteers who’ve shown their dedication to Stampede. Here Williams enjoys a visit with volunteers on July 5 during a volunteer appreciation supper. (Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye)

A Ponoka Stampede volunteer was given special recognition for his dedication to the rodeo.

Mike Williams can’t remember when he first started volunteering for Ponoka Stampede, but for him, it’s not the years that matter so much, rather it’s the people working behind the scenes who make it such a memorable experience.

So, he was surprised and honoured to hear when Stampede director Keith Kjenner said he was being recognized with the 2023 Errol McMillan volunteer award.

“I was in a dirty blue work shirt when he told me,” he said.

“We know it’s over 10 years, but I don’t know when it started,” he added when asked about his first year helping.

Like anyone volunteering at any organization, Williams started small. He was asked by Kjenner to help with bartending. He’s a guy who prides himself on hard work and dedication, and even more importantly, celebrating the people around him.

“I take the time to visit and thank the volunteers for their hard work,” says Williams.

He suggests they’re the unsung heroes of Ponoka Stampede. “I do it for all the volunteers.”

“Each year I come back and see the volunteers and they recognize me and we get to talk.”

For many, volunteering at Stampede is about taking an extra week out of their personal and professional lives to support the rodeo, and for Williams it’s no different. He’s become a hard-working, trusted supporter of the rodeo.

Williams helps manage drinks, the inventory, the orders, but also manages the maintenance of equipment and pretty much whatever else comes his way.

“On average, I’m 350 phone calls or texts a day,” said Williams, adding that his days typically run 20 hours.

From calls for drinks to helping repair breaks in areas, he’s ready to help.

Kjenner said Williams’ mechanical skills have been an important support for the rodeo. He said there was unanimous recognition from the Ponoka Stampede board of directors when nominated by director Greg Gordon.

“He’s a heck of a volunteer. He started out like all of us do with the smaller tasks,” said Kjenner, himself a recipient of the award.

Working with folks who get things done is what Kjenner is all about.

“If you want to get something done, ask a busy man,” said Kjenner, referencing a proverb he’d heard.

“I won’t ask anybody to do anything that I won’t do myself and Mike’s the same as me. He helps with the distribution and stage shows and all the other tasks with managing the drinks and everything else,” Kjenner added.

When the show is done, someone then manages all the pieces that come with stage setup and takedown. Williams is there to help and when they’re taking the stage out at four in the morning, he’s also there.

“He’s been a huge asset,” said Kjenner. “He’s very personable.”