Conrad Jean awarded with Diamond Jubilee Medal
Conrad Jean was awarded with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at the 26th annual Conrad Jean Special Olympics Slo-Pitch Tournament banquet on Saturday night for his continued exemplification of volunteer and community spirit.
The Diamond Jubilee Medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II accession to the Throne, and it is awarded to 60,000 Canadians who have made significant contributions to Canada, or a particular province, territory, region or community within the country.
“I was totally shocked, I had no clue whatsoever,” Jean said. “It’s something that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and when I pass on, I can probably pass my medallion to one of my children.”
When Town of St. Paul council was presented with the right to nominate a member of the St. Paul community, Coun. Norm Noel said that selecting Jean was a unanimous decision.
“Conrad has done so much for our community over the years. He’s been involved in the (ST. Paul Abilities Network) organization, he’s been involved with the Special Olympics, and he’s been a major volunteer in the community,” said Noel. “His name has been synonymous with volunteering, and as a council, we felt that there was nobody more worthy than him to have this award.”
Donna Desjardins, who has been involved with the Conrad Jean Special Olympics Slo Pitch Tournament as a volunteer since its foundation in 1987, helped put together the nomination for Jean, something that she says she was more than happy to do.
“He believes in community, he believes in people and he believes that everybody has a value,” said Desjardins.
“I have seen him take people like my son, who have no understanding of sports and recreation, and taught him teamwork . . . (Jean) started off Special Olympics (in St. Paul) and this ball tournament 26 years ago. It was just a fledgling but it’s grown, and grown, and grown.”
Desjardins’ son Daniel, who has participated in the tournament since 1987, was equally proud of Jean’s accomplishment. “I’ve known Conrad 26 years,” he said. “He’s done well for me over the years, playing ball.”
Conrad Jean has stepped down as chair of St. Paul Special Olympics to make way for Nikki Gossman, but Jean says he will still be involved with the organization, just on a smaller level.
“Conrad has a big involvement in the community, especially with Special Olympics,” Gossman said.
“I’m going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. He’s so willing to be there and back us up and give us the support that we need and I definitely appreciate his help, his advice and his experience.”
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