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

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

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

Tony Cassie of Special Olympics Melfort was among those receiving Volunteer Dedication Awards at the late January ceremony. Caissie said that receiving the award was an honour.

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

“Locally, too, we have a good group of volunteers, currently that we’ve been able to get over the last few years to volunteer.”

Caissie wass away in Mexico and couldn’t attend the award ceremony. His longtime curling volunteer associate Brian Kjelshus accepted the award on his behalf. Kjelshus also spoke in the award video for Sask Sport.

“That was really nice,” Caissie said. “We really get along so great. 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 crucial part of the Special Olympics Melfort Committee and has been volunteering with the organization for more than 10 years, currently serving as the program coordinator.

Over the last year, Special Olympics Melfort has added a new recreational and competitive swimming coach who is a younger volunteer.

“We have a lot of older volunteers, but, sometimes there’s a difficulty, like a lot of organizations, recruiting younger volunteers,” he said.

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

In his duties, Special Olympics Saskatchewan wrote, Caissie goes above and beyond the regular call of duty. He helps organize meetings, apply for grants, assist with registration, community accreditation, as well as volunteer and athlete recruitment and facility booking.

Caissie had some familiarity with Special Olympics before he became heavily involved. Initially, he was asked to join the board by Ron Holliday, who was the Grand Knight of the Melfort Knights of Columbus.

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

“My initial involvement (with) that was strictly as a board member and not really being familiar with the role that would play, and it just flowed from there. (I went) from volunteering on the board team to helping out with bowling and helping out with curling and some other programs. It’s really just flowed from there.”

In 2020-21, Caissie was also named the Special Olympics Saskatchewan Bob Peddie Memorial Award Winner, which is given to a long-standing volunteer, for his dedication to Special Olympics in the province.

Caissie said that Special Olympics Melfort is a great organization

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

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

“An example would be for hockey. We used to have hockey and then the volunteer that was with for hockey (program) decided to no longer volunteer, so it kind of that ended that.”

Though the Special Olympics are thriving in Melfort, Caissie said they can always use help.

“That’s the thing that we really are always looking for—new volunteers and even having somebody just drop into a meeting or drop into curling one night, just to get a feel for who we are and what we do, and definitely will never regret having becoming involved,” Caissie said.

The annual program celebrates the success and dedication of those in the province’s amateur sport community through two categories – Excellence Awards and Recognition Awards. The Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding event performances or a series of performances by a Saskatchewan athlete, coach or team within a given calendar year, while the Recognition Awards include the Volunteer and Coach Dedication Awards, as well as the Inspire Through Sport Award, all which honour individuals who have devoted their time and effort to the growth of sport in Saskatchewan.