Longtime Christmas Cheer Board head dies after long illness

The longtime face of a popular Winnipeg Christmas charity has died.

Former Christmas Cheer Board executive director Kai Madsen died Tuesday night after a long illness, according to current Cheer Board head Shawna Bell. He was 80 years old.

“My earliest memories of the Cheer Board were of Kai and the overwhelming warmth and kindness that he brought to the holidays every year,” Bell said. “It is a sad day for Winnipeg. Kai will be missed by so many across the city.”

Madsen’s tenure with the board lasted more than 50 years, with more than 25 of those serving as the executive director, while the rest of his time was spent as a volunteer.

READ MORE: Madsen retires from Christmas Cheer Board

“I can’t say enough about Winnipeggers,” Madsen said in a statement following his retirement in August.

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“It’s been a wonderful journey, a large part of my life and I owe them a debt of gratitude. I’ve seen the best of everybody and when you think well of people, good things happen.”

Bell says Madsen brought many smiles to the faces of Winnipeggers.

“Kai’s presence with the Cheer Board was much more than that of an executive,” Bell added. “His face had nearly become that of Christmas itself in Winnipeg. Just ask Winnipeggers who received holiday hampers, they would agree.”

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