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Kayla Burns, Concepts in Community Living, 2020 Dedication Award

MOUNT VERNON — During the month of March, The Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities (KCBDD) celebrates Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month with many activities for everyone. 

Each year, legislators and self-advocates come together to participate in the annual Developmental Disability Awareness and Advocacy Day at the Ohio Statehouse. This year, due to the pandemic, a group of self-advocates met with their state legislaters on March 2 via Zoom to learn about upcoming changes and advocate for people with disabilities in the Knox County community and across the state.

KCBDD typically hosts an annual DD Month luncheon to highlight a different facet of programming and pass out awards to deserving award winners. Due to the pandemic starting at the beginning of March in 2020, the 2020 luncheon was cancelled. 

“Now we are pleased to give out the awards for 2020 and 2021,” said Brittany Coon, KCBDD public outreach coordinator. “We will be posting short videos to our Facebook page to highlight the award winners.”

The following individuals received awards.

Community Partner Award

The Community Partner Award recognizes an individual, family member, staff person, volunteer or organization that has worked diligently to create partnerships and alliances with Knox County. This person/organization helps with creating an inclusive culture and environment for everyone to live, work and grow. The 2020 Community Partner Award winner is Paul McNeal with MVNU Athletics. The 2021 Community Partner award winner is Habitat for Humanity of Knox County.

Employer Award

The Employer Award recognizes an employer who works with an individual with a developmental disability. This employer always goes above and beyond the expectation to help the employee not only be successful in the workplace but thrive. The culture at this place of employment is open, inclusive and creative. The 2020 Employer Award winner is Rob Stiltner with Pioneer College Caterers at Mount Vernon Nazarene University; the 2021 Employer Award goes to McDonald’s.

Dedication Award

The Dedication Award recognizes a person, direct care staff, or group of people who are extraordinary in giving their time (paid or unpaid) to help others who have a developmental disability. They are selfless leaders and are always working toward promoting independence and making positive changes. The recipients of this award will showcase a passion for making advances in individual’s lives. The 2020 Dedication Award winners are Kayla Burns with Concepts in Community Living and Colleen Thiel with Creative Foundations. The 2021 Dedication Award winners are Maude Proper, an independent provider, and Sherrie Simmons, KCBDD provider relations manager. 

Local Hero Award

The Local Hero Award recognizes someone from the community whose basic nature is to give without expecting anything in return. This person is visionary; he or she promotes healthy ideas and offers support and guidance to create improvements in the lives of people with developmental disabilities. The 2020 Local hero Award winner is Chris Kirkhope with Transition U; the 2021 Local Hero Award winner is Knox Public Health.

Individual Spotlight Award

The Individual Spotlight Award recognizes a person with a developmental disability who has overcome adversity to achieve or go beyond their goals and expectations. The individual who receives this award demonstrates a drive to be better, a desire to be more independent and wants to make a difference in their life and the lives of others. The 2020 award winner is Will Smith. The 2021 Individual Spotlight Award winners are Devine Ferrell and Jason Rhinebolt.

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