Kai Madsen, who has helped poor Winnipegs bring Christmas for 52 years, has passed away. Madsen resigned as executive director of the Christmas Cheer Committee in August. He has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which weakens his lung function and requires him to take oxygen 24/7. When he died on Wednesday, he was at home, surrounded by his family. Kai Madsen, Executive Director of the Christmas Cheers Committee.
Shauna Bell, who succeeded Madsen as executive director, said: “There can be no exaggeration of good things about him.” “(His death) left a big hole, and I will do my best to make sure (cheering board)… It is correct for him.” Madsen, now 80, began volunteering on the Cheering Committee in 1969. He assembled food and gift baskets and delivered them with his mentor Dave Reese. He later became a member of the board of directors and served as an executive director in the 1990s.
“When I was a kid, the cheering committee was Kay,” said Bell, whose parents volunteered at a non-profit organization. “I always knew that face and the kindness that followed.” She said that he was “a person’s liaison.” Under his leadership, this non-profit organization has developed into an organization that distributes approximately 17,500 holiday hampers every December. Thousands of people volunteered their time and donated to the organization. Kay Madsen in 2018.
“He has a smile on his face,” Bell said. “When they walked in, everyone was greeted with a warm welcome, and if someone wanted him for a minute, they would get 10 minutes.” Bell said that he remembers names, whether he has seen someone or sees them often. “For me, this is one of his best qualities. He knows you. He may only see you once, but he knows you.” Mayor Brian Bowman called Madsen an “outstanding Winnipeg.”
“Kay… deeply cares about those in need,” Bowman said in a written statement. “After decades of tirelessly working with the Winnipeg Christmas Cheer Committee, his cheering legacy will continue to exist in our community.” Editor Paul Samyn said that Madsen is well known to free press readers because the newspaper maintains close contact with the Cheer Board through its annual fundraising event.
He said: “For decades, Kay, as the spokesperson of the Winnipeg institution, has been a frequent visitor to us during Christmas, and has created miracles for so many needy families during the holidays.” “We have always been happy to work with him and to mourn his passing with our readers.” In 2013, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz was welcomed by Kay Madsen at the Winnipeg cheer. Madsen told the Free Press in August that his illness made daily tasks, such as bathing, more difficult. In recent years, he has worked closely with the board of directors to prepare for a cheering committee without him.
Prior to filling Madsen’s position, Bell was chairman of the board of directors. After he retires, she will see him once a week. “He always thought about everything,” Bell said. “He is looking for the best interests of the families who receive the gift basket. I learned to really put it at the forefront of every decision we make.” When announcing his retirement, Madsen stated that he would cherish the experience of working for the Cheer Committee and thanked him for being able to participate in
the community in a “meaningful way.” Madsen said in a statement: “I can’t say too much about Winnipeg.” “This is a wonderful journey, a large part of my life, I owe them a feeling of gratitude. I have met everyone On the best side, good things happen when you treat people well.” At a press conference on Wednesday, the chairman of the Manitoba Bametis Federation paid tribute to Madsen.