Community supporters, volunteers and businesses were honored Thursday night during the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards ceremony at the O’Shaughnessy Center.
This year’s Great Whitefish Award was given to Mike Goguen, a Whitefish philanthropist and venture capitalist, who has donated to many causes in Whitefish and the Flathead Valley.
He has been a major funder for the Whitefish Trail, provided a $500,000 donation to the North Valley Food Bank for its new building that opened in 2013 and an endowment, is the sole funder of Two Bear Air rescue helicopter service and has personally completed 30 rescues, funds the Two Bear Therapeutic Riding Center and has provided funding for the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Lin Akey presented the award, recalling when he first met Goguen while working on funding for the Whitefish Trail. They talked about Goguen’s different business and philanthropic projects.
“He is a gentleman who moves the needle not just in our town, but globally,” he said. “He is passionate about making a difference in others’ lives.”
Goguen, who was attending a meeting for the board of Kalispell Regional Healthcare and could not attend the chamber ceremony, accepted the award through a prerecorded video. He said seeing the goodness of the people in the community is what cemented his desire to live in Whitefish.
“As my wife Jamie always says, when your heart is in the right place there is no problem that’s unsolvable and no goal that’s unachievable,” he said. “We have so much to be proud of in this community — the philanthropic efforts of the community have produced so many great results.”
“I think if we keep focusing on bringing great compassion and more inspiration and more opportunity to every member of our community there is so much more we can do,” he added.