Chamber of Commerce serving Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County Announces 2015 People’s Choice Awards Recipients
On Wednesday, November 4, the Quality of Life Committee of the Chamber of Commerce serving Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County, presented the 17th Annual 2015 People’s Choice Awards at its Annual Meeting at the Virginia Horse Center.
John B. Hennis, President of the Board of Directors, welcomed more than 125 people to the Chamber’s first Annual Meeting under the direction of Executive Director Tracy E. Lyons. After a brief video recapping events and memorable moments over the past year, Lyons enthusiastically laid the groundwork for an exciting year ahead.
John Rainone, President of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and Chair of the Quality of Life Committee, presented the People’s Choice Awards before the large crowd in attendance. The awards honor individuals in five categories: Volunteer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Educator of the Year, Employer of the Year, and Citizen of the Year. Nominations are put forth by members of the Quality of Life Committee, which is composed of representatives of the Buena Vista Rotary Club, Lexington Lions Club, Lexington-Rockbridge Jaycees, Lexington Rotary Club, Lexington Sunrise Rotary Club, and the Mountain City Masonic Lodge No. 67, and the community at large, before being narrowed down to four nominees per category.
Winners for each category:
Volunteer of the Year:
The 2015 Volunteer of the Year is Dick Rathmell. At 91 years young, Dick has been providing active and inspired leadership for many organizations in Rockbridge County including the Sunrise Rotary, Rockbridge Historical Society, and many others.
Humanitarian of the Year:
The 2015 Humanitarian of the Year is Dr. Marc A. Hudson. Dr. Hudson opened the Lexington office of Blue Ridge Eye Associates in 1994. Dr. Hudson participates in annual optometric mission trips to Central and South America, and holds free clinics in the prison system and underserved rural areas.
Educator of the Year:
The 2015 Educator of the Year is Patti Cook. Patti Cook is the Administrative Director of the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center. She touches the lives of students and families in ways that have long-lasting and positive impacts throughout the community. She integrates her programs with the community to ensure full acceptance of “her” children and their families. She educates families on the most recent developments in the treatment and support services available for autistic children and makes herself available after hours and on weekends to provide critically needed assistance in family emergencies.
Employer of the Year:
The 2015 Employer of the Year is White’s Travel Center. Located off of Interstate 81, White’s Travel Center features a full service restaurant, Orchard Creek Auto/Plaza, C-Store and Deli, Travel Center, Fuel Center, Petro Lube Service Center, Road Squad, plus amble parking for all size vehicles. Petro Stopping Centers are the largest full-service travel center company in the United States, serving professional drivers and motorists alike. White’s is dedicated to providing highway travelers with services that are unsurpassed in quality and convenience.
Citizen of the Year:
We were pleased to celebrate the life of Tony Conway as the 2015 Citizen of the Year. His wife, Amanda, accepted the award in his honor and on behalf of his parents who traveled from North Carolina to attend the event. Conway graduated from VMI in 2001, he then settled down in Lexington with his wife and his two children. He was a strong part of the Lexington community, first teaching at Rockbridge County High School, then coaching the VMI’s soccer team, and finally working as a database manager with Rockbridge County Schools and Washington and Lee University. About four years ago, Tony was diagnosed with ALS, which prompted him to devote himself to making the most of the time he had. Tony started a blog, www.dontshrink.com, where he could share with others about his adventures as well as his illness. Though Tony is now gone, he continues to inspire people in our community as well as worldwide with his courage in the face of tragedy and encourages us to make the best of every day.
“We would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this a memorable year for the Chamber of Commerce,” said Executive Director Lyons. “Without the support of the community and our members, the success we saw with each event would not have been possible. We are looking forward to doing even more in 2016!”
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