Tony Toholke has said he will continue to contribute after taking out a major volunteering award on the weekend.
Known to all and sundry as Tonka, the Mount Isa man has been a familiar figure at volunteering events across the region especially the rodeo and has now been honoured by Volunteering North Queensland.
In Townsville on Saturday Tonka took out the Volunteer of the Year award ahead of fellow finalists Charlene Jones from Richmond and Gloria Vass from the Burdekin, with 42 nominees in the category.
VNQ said the award is presented in honour of an individual who has made an exemplary voluntary contribution and celebrates those who have made a significant impact towards North Queensland's well-being through their volunteering.
And there is no doubt that Tonka scores highly on that front.
Most recently one of the faces of the Mount Isa Rodeo community quest where he raised funds for a cause very close to his heart, This is a Conversation Starter (TIACS) Foundation, which aims to facilitate conversations around mental health and he also started the Mount Isa International Men's day event in 2021.
In 2019 he arrived at the Mount Isa Show wearing a wedding dress after a five day walk from the border west of Camooweal.
Tonka said volunteering was about how people managed time and giving back to the community.
"Volunteering saved my life. Time is something we don't have much of, you can always get more money but you can't get more time," Tonka said.
"The most valuable thing we can do is give our time, to our community and to other people."
Tonka said he would continue to promote TIACS, as well being an ambassador for the Isa Rodeo and bring another men's day event to Mount Isa.
"I'm also the MC for the Royal Flying Doctor Ball in Mount Isa coming up soon, and I'm also going to be the MC for Beat the Heat down in Cloncurry," he said.
Another Mount Isa person, Sheree Tuppurainen, was a finalist in the Volunteer managers category but narrowly missed out on the award.
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