FORT KENT, Maine — It was perhaps fitting that only a week before the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver this northern Maine town recognized one of its own on the eve of her departure to volunteer at the games’ biathlon competition office.
The Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce named Nancy Thibodeau Citizen of the Year during its annual banquet Friday night.
“She has supported the dreams of two-thirds of the current U.S. Biathlon Team,” Max Cobb, executive director of the U.S. Biathlon Team, said in presenting the award. “It is very fitting you are being recognized for your hard work, generosity and service to youth.”
Thibodeau has been actively involved in numerous local, state and national service groups, including the American Red Cross, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Fort Kent’s Chamber of Commerce.
For nearly a decade she also has been involved in events at the Maine Winter Sports Center’s 10th Mountain Lodge in Fort Kent, in addition to working closely with the athletes and coaches training there.
Thibodeau has been key in planning and running competitions ranging from the 2004 Biathlon World Cup, Olympic time trials, Paralympics games and North American Nordic ski championships.
“I have the benefit of being from away and have a thorough appreciation for Nancy’s citizenship and commitment to the St. John Valley,” Cobb said. “I applaud her creative philosophy and energy.”
Cobb noted that Thibodeau has “earned the respect of her peers around the world” for her work in organizing biathlon events.
“I am humbled by this,” Thibodeau said. “I love Fort Kent. It is my hometown, and I thank you for letting me serve you.”
Earlier in the evening junior biathletes Grace Boutot, the 2009 Junior World silver medalist, and Andrea Mayo, a member of the 2010 World Junior Team, were recognized with the Chamber’s 2010 Spirit Award.
Dr. Richard Cost, outgoing president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, was given the annual Merit Award.
In addition, Quigley’s Building Supply was presented the Heritage Award, and Roy Auto Parts was given the Business Member of the Year Award.
“You should all be proud of this town,” said Bill Green, host of television’s “Bill’s Green Maine” and the evening’s guest speaker. “Keep doing what you are doing, because no one does it better.”