It was a day for those who were developmentally disabled to celebrate their achievements, along with the efforts of those who help support and advocate on their behalf.
The Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities held its annual “Lifetime of Giving” awards on Friday at a new location, All Shepherd’s Church in Lewis Center. March is “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.”
“Just the fact that you’re here to be honored has touched my heart,” said keynote speaker Rep. Andrew Brenner. “You’ve got a place in heaven for the work that you do.”
The winners were:
• For the first time, there were two recipients of the Kathy VanBuskirk Outstanding Service Award — Phil Phillips and Bill Volkhardt. Both men were recognized for directly assisting individuals with developmental disabilities on a routine basis.
• The Nancy Richards Self-Advocate of the Year Award went to Jessi Russell. The award is given to a person with a disability who effectively advocates for themselves. Russell was one of the few winners who spoke, and she simply said, “I’m very honored.”
• The Outstanding Adult Day Service Support Specialist Award went to Kerry Lane. This award goes to a person who teaches and reinforces concepts related to work and non-work activities.
• The Outstanding Advocate award went to Megan Tice, a youngster who used Facebook to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.
• The Outstanding Community Employer Award went to Goodwill of Delaware, who has made accommodations for its employees with disabilities.
• The Outstanding Community Partner Award went to Rita Treese. This award goes to a teacher who helps students with disabilities to advance beyond their expectations academically and socially.
• The Outstanding Team was won by Bailey Elementary preschool in Dublin for their collaborative efforts with people who have disabilities.
• The Outstanding Volunteer Award was given to Leah Norris for helping at Special Olympics.
• The Outstanding Community Partner Award went to Nickolas McCoy, an attorney guardian who had the loudest cheering section of the winners.
Each winner was nominated by at least one person. In some cases, they received two nominations.
“It is so important that we take the time to recognize those individuals and community members who make a difference in the lives of others,” said Kristine Hodge, superintendent of the board. “We are incredibly lucky to live in a community that is so inclusive to those with disabilities, and we are excited to continue to recognize self-advocates and community members with these awards.”
The event began with a moment of silence for previous superintendent Robert Morgan, who passed away earlier this week.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.