CENTRE WELLINGTON - The Township of Centre Wellington has officially unveiled its "Home of" Patrick Anderson signs, making the township one of the first municipalities to honour a parasport athlete in such a way.
On Friday, Centre Wellington council joined with the three Elora Public School Grade 7 students who presented the idea to council – Lily Brown, Helena Kogen and Mya Hunt – their teacher, Andy Speers, and Patrick Anderson were in attendance for the official unveiling of the signs at Highway 6, in front of the Freshco parking lot.
"For many years I played at the national teams and worn that Canada jersey. It's a real honour to represent Canada. No matter where I went, whether that was Sydney, Athens, Tokyo, Beijing, I was representing Canada and thinking about Canada, but I was really thinking about Fergus, Elora, Belwoods, Aboyne, Salem," said Anderson during the event.
"I was thinking about my grandma's house across Beatty Line. The rest of the Centre Wellington community has supported me growing up. When I had my accident when I was 10, the community really stepped up and helped my family and got us back to our feet. I am forever grateful for this wonderful community."
In February, the Elora Public School students delegated to council with a request that staff install “home of” signs to make known that Centre Wellington is the home of Paralympian Patrick Anderson. They wanted to honour the Paralympian for his accolades.
Anderson was born in Edmonton, Alta., and was raised in Fergus. He's a three-time Paralympic champion, a four-time medalist at the Paralympic Games, and World Championships. In 2015, Patrick was inducted into the Centre Wellington Sports Hall of Fame.
His accomplishments also include the Wheelchair Basketball Canada Male Athlete of the Year for the years 2009, 2013, and 2018, and was awarded with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013.
The signs have been installed along the township’s Highway 6 connecting link which extends from Tower Street to Sideroad 19.
During its April virtual council meeting, Colin Baker, township’s managing director of infrastructure services, explained to council the initial proposal was to install the signs at the population signs at both the north and south ends of Fergus.
However, the population signs belong to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and would require MTO’s approval to be modified or added to. Township staff then decided to install them at the township’s Highway 6 connecting link as it is within the township’s jurisdiction.
Installation of the signs have been completed by Yard Weasels at no cost and the signs have been donated by Print Factor.
"I want to firstly thank Andy Speers. As a teacher, he provided a classroom environment that encourages students to act on an idea that they were excited about and encouraged to set the wheels in motion with their idea. I want to thank Helena, Lily and Mya for acting on your idea. Lots of people can think of good ideas, and people have good ideas all the time but it's about having the courage to take action that matters," said Mayor Kelly Linton during the event.
"Council doesn't typically say yes to all the requests we get but to have unanimous support from every councilor is rare these days. Lastly, I want to acknowledge Patrick. It's an honour to be the mayor of an individual with impressive accolades such as yourself."