After continually finding ways to combine fun events with support for important community initiatives, Derick Lehmann has been named Orillia’s 2023 Citizen of the Year.
The organizer of the Back to the '90s Video Dance Parties, Trunk or Treat, and the Ugly Christmas Sweater Bowling Party — supporting local Christmas toy drives and The Sharing Place — was honoured for his contributions to the community during Monday’s council meeting.
Lehmann’s nominators described him as "generous with his time" and "willing to contribute his knowledge and skills for the betterment of the community," said a press release.
During the ceremony, Mayor Don McIsaac thanked Lehmann for his “heart of gold.”
“Derick’s efforts in supporting community organizations have significantly benefited the residents of Orillia,” said McIsaac. “His ability to rally citizens through various events, generating donations that go back into supporting the community, highlight his contributions in 2023.”
Lehmann thanked his family and friends for supporting the initiatives he has spearheaded over the years, and congratulated his fellow nominees for the work they have done in the city, as well.
“Fellow nominees, I don't know who they are, but I would surely agree that they would think this isn't about us. It's about giving back to the community,” Lehmann said. “Family and friends, they're very used to being ‘voluntold to help’ at my events at this point, and they're also the first to buy tickets and I appreciate their support.”
Lehmann became emotional as he pointed to his niece and nephew, who were in the audience, as inspirations to give back to the community. In December, Lehmann took the funds raised through an event to purchase gifts for other children over Christmas, with his niece and nephew coming along to help.
“Lately, they've been a reason I've been giving back, because I like to see community come together at events that I put together,” he said. “It was a really fun day going out and spending like $14,000 on a toy shopping spree … (and) part of that is them knowing that they weren't taking those toys home … (they were) for other kids.
“I love giving back, and I encourage everybody else to give back, whether it's time or money or effort,” he said.
The 2023 Citizen of the Year was selected from a pool of nominees by a selection panel including former winners Cam Davidson, Marci Csumrik, Fred Larsen, and Stan Mathewson, as well as OrilliaMatters editor Dave Dawson, Pure Country 106 morning host Carey Moran, and Orillia Chamber of Commerce Past President Nathan Housser.