July 15, 2019

The Wood Cookie File: 2019 Recipients

OTTAWA, ON - JULY 20: CFL match between the Ottawa RedBlacks and the B.C. Lions at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, ON. Canada on July 20, 2018. PHOTO: Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography

It’s the REDBLACKS’ symbol of excellence … a slice of the team’s touchdown log ripped by chainsaw after every home touchdown.  They’re called “wood cookies” and they represent hard work, achievement and excellence.  The wood cookies are used  to honour Ottawa/Gatineau community heroes … the people who make our community a better place in which to live through their selfless actions.  They might be given to doctors who have developed a promising treatment for a deadly disease, first responders who risk their lives to save ours or everyday heroes who volunteer or donate time/money for philanthropic causes.  These are community heroes, the best-of-the-best, and the REDBLACKS recognize them at every home game with the presentation of a wood cookie.

Zoe the rescue dog, Scott Gannon, Mike Vezina and Jeremie Tremblay

On Friday July 12th,  two 16-year old girls, Marta Malek and Maya Mirota, became separated from their hiking group and were lost in the wilds of Algonquin Park.  For 3 days and nights, Park Rangers, volunteers and police combed the rugged forest for traces of the girls … but to no avail. The Ontario Provincial Police K9 Unit was contacted and officers and dogs joined the search on Monday July 15th. After 90-minutes of frustration, one of the dogs, a 2 ½ year old Lab named Zoe (Zoh-EE), perked-up.  Her handler, Scott Gannon, knew she’d picked up a scent.  As Zoe bounded ahead, Scott and his fellow officers, Mike Vezina and Jeremie Tremblay, began shouting.  And within a few minutes, they got a response.  When the officers caught up to Zoe, they found that she had located Marta and Maya and, aside from many bug bites and a little dehydration, they were OK.

On July 25th,  we presented the REDBLACKS highest symbol of excellence, a wood cookie ripped by chainsaw from our touchdown log, to OPP Canine Detachment officers Mike Vezina, Jeremie Tremblay, Scott Gannon and Zoe.  And since Zoe might not have fully grasped the significance of the wood cookie, we asked our TD Place Head Chef, Josh Moore, if he could bake her a special, all natural doggy treat wood cookie, which was also presented at the game.


The Ghadban Kids and the Ottawa Food Bank

Ottawa REDBLACKS fans have contributed over 200,000 pounds of food to the Ottawa Food Bank during the team’s 5-seasons of existence through the Purolator Tackle Hunger Program.  In so doing, they’ve raised awareness of a serious social problem and inspired a new generation of to fight hunger in our community.  Case in point, the Ghadban kids.  Brothers Ameen (10), Aydin (7) and sister Aleena Ghadban (12) started collecting food for Purolator Tackle Hunger in 2015.  They canvassed friends and neighbors in Barrhaven, collected all the food their wagon could hold and then they did it again and again leading-up to the each season’s Tackle Hunger game.  This year, the trio surpassed 2-thousand pounds of food collected for the Ottawa Foodbank. The REDBLACKS honoured the Ghadban kids with a wood cookie on July 13, 2019.



John “The Milkman” Mielke and the Ottawa Distress Centre

When you host a radio show, you have to be “on.” Your persona attracts and keeps listeners, sometimes more so than the music you play or the guests you interview. It doesn’t matter how you feel or even who you really are off the air.  What matters is playing the role and delivering the audience, and if you don’t, you’ll have to move-on.   That was John “The Milkman” Mielke’s life on Ottawa radio for over 20-years before he got called-in to a one-minute meeting and was handed his walking papers.  Shortly before that, his wife had received a buy-out from her employer and so there they were … no income and fear, uncertainty and doubt.  John was depressed and even suicidal.  He needed help, and like 50,000 others in our region every year, he called the Ottawa Distress Centre and got it.  Soon after, John became a Distress Centre volunteer and fundraiser, taking an active role in helping others in crisis.  John Mielke and the Distress Centre’s Leslie Scott received a wood cookie on July 5, 2019.


Heather Lucente, Disaster Relief Volunteer

As the spring runoff swelled the Ottawa River to flood levels in 2017 and 2019, residents of Constance Bay knew they were in trouble.  They needed sandbags, volunteers, an evacuation centre, food and water, a disaster relief website and organizers to work effectively with first responders, troops and their friends and neighbors.  That’s where Heather Lucente stepped-up.  She created a disaster information website for her community, helped coordinate logistics, and she volunteered to help in any way she could.  And thanks to her efforts during the first disastrous flood, she was able to quickly organize the community response when a tornado flattened homes, farms and businesses in nearby Dunrobin in 2018.  Heather Lucente was presented with her wood cookie on opening night, 2019.