Abilities Plus announces 2022 Henry-Stark award winners

Staff report
For the Star Courier/Republic
Front Row, from left: Claire Brody, Achiever of the Year; Tammy Hand, Volunteer Award; and Julie Landwehr, Directors Award. Second Row: Tom Wells, accepting the Business Award on behalf of St. Paul’s; Terry Hand, Volunteer Award; Everett Whitcher, Special Recognition Award; and Robert Brummel, Civic/Community Award on behalf of the Geneseo Foundation. Back Row: Isaac Hernandez, Gary German Award.

Approximately 200 supporters of Abilities Plus gathered on Oct, 26 at the Annawan Banquet Center to help the organization celebrate another successful year helping those in need at the agency’s annual awards dinner.

The evening provided an opportunity to recognize those individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond to serve the needs of individuals with delays and disabilities in Henry and StarkCounties.

2022 award winners:

Civic/Community Award: Geneseo Foundation. The Geneseo Foundation has been supporting Abilities Plus since 2003 when they began giving to the agency’s building and residential campaigns. Their most recent donation was in March of this year when they awarded us funds to complete some capital projects. This donation allowed us to make necessary upgrades/purchases without spending operating dollars that are used for client services.

Volunteer Award: Terry and Tammy Hand of Toulon. Terry and Tammy Hand have dedicated 6 years of service to coaching the Abilities Plus Special Olympic team. Terry and Tammy put in countless hours organizing and planning in order to be the best coaches and role models. They never lack a positive attitude or a solid pep talk. They make sure athletes and coaches have a lot of fun, while also ensuring the events are fulfilling experiences for the athletes.

Gary German Memorial Award: Isaac Hernandez of Kewanee. This award was established in 1997 and is given to one Special Olympic Athlete each year. The award goes to one athlete each year who exhibits good sportsmanship, enthusiasm and encouragement with other athletes, has good attendance at practices and events, and abides by the Special Olympic motto, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Isaac is a great model for these traits and did a wonderful job at Special Olympics this year.

Business Award: St Paul’s Lutheran Church of Kewanee. Reverend and Mrs. Eckardt contacted Abilities Plus last year to inquire about our cleaning crews. A cleaning crew started in August of last year cleaning the church. Six months later, they added another crew to clean the gym and hallways as they were impressed with what the cleaning crew did. They have been very appreciative of the cleaning crews and we are grateful for their support of our agency.

Achiever of the Year: Claire Brody of Kewanee. Claire is very deserving of this award, as she is always smiling, works hard on her outcomes, is very friendly to all. She never meets a stranger.

Special Recognition Award: Everett Whitcher of Kewanee. The special recognition award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to our agency. Everett has been a strong supporter of our agency for many years. Most recently, he has held a round-up event at Save-A-Lot for the past two years to support Abilities Plus. And another round-up event is planned for this year from November 25th to December 31st. He has also been a tournament sponsor for the Abilities Plus golf outing, donated to our building and residential campaigns, as well as numerous in-kind donations to the Resale Shop., the golf outing and our residential homes. We truly appreciate all he does for Abilities Plus.

Directors Award: Julie Landwehr. The Directors Award is given to an individual who has made a significant and substantial impact on the agency and/or improved the quality of life of persons we serve. There is no one more deserving than Julie. We are grateful two former Executive Directors, Carol Blake and Mike Zerull, were able to attend the banquet and offer deserving words, as well as echoing current Executive Director Kim Walker’s sentiments. Julie has been and will continue to be a great advocate for Abilities Plus.