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Fundraising cyclist given medal

Ladner's Johnny van Tol recognized by B.C. Lung Association for quarter century of support

Ladner's Johnny van Tol has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his volunteer work, primarily with the B.C. Lung Association.

Van Tol received the medal last weekend during the lung association's 28th annual Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath, an event he has supported for the past quarter century.

The award is a symbol of constancy and loyalty, as well as a symbol of service.

"Johnny gives tirelessly to others and has been an outstanding volunteer in his community, especially for the lung association during in the past 25 years," said Scott McDonald, CEO of the B.C. Lung Association.

"It's an honour," said van Tol. "You don't seek recognition, but it certainly feels great when the work you do is appreciated. I was really surprised to be nominated.

It means a lot."

Van Tol's involvement with the lung association began when he heard about a cycling fundraiser from Seattle to New Jersey in the 1980s for the American Lung Association.

"I was interested in taking on the challenge, but being Canadian, wanted to raise funds for the B.C. Lung Association rather the American Lung Association. With a little help from the B.C. Lung Association, that's just what I did," said van Tol.

"After I finished, the association suggested I participate in their annual Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath. I've been hooked ever since. Some years I ride, others I volunteer, and a few years I've had to pass, but for the most part I've been taking part every year since 1989.

"I've also been involved in other Lung Association activities," he said. "I work with special needs kids for a living and so when they asked if I would help with the association's asthma kids camps, of course I accepted. I do as much as I can for the association."

Van Tol's wife Morag, who he met since getting involved with the lung association, has become just as committed and involved to lung health issues. And like her husband, she too is employed in helping kids with special needs.