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Mayor's Award Categories/Nominees

The Commission on Disability is pleased to announce nominees and winners for the the 2009 Mayor's Awards.

Dorothy Lasley Memorial Award

The Dorothy Lasley Memorial award recognizes an individual with a disability who is actively working toward increasing awareness of the rights of those with disabilities and improving their quality of life. Consideration is given to the nominee's contribution to the community through volunteering, organizational membership and/or community leadership.

The award is named for Dorothy Lasley, who was diagnosed at the age of two as having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which necessitated the use of a wheelchair for mobility and later caused the loss of her eyesight. Ms. Lasley worked tirelessly throughout her lifetime towards removing both architectural and attitudinal barriers for citizens with disabilities. She was an advocate for people with disabilities, donating countless volunteer hours until her death in 1983. She worked for equal opportunities in employment, transportation, housing, education and independent living.

2009 Dorothy Lasley Memorial Award Winner

The 2009 Dorothy Lasley Memorial Award Winner goes to Carmella McDuff. Carmella was nominated by Joe Hintz, Robert Herrick, and Colorado Representative John Kefalas, District 52. They write the following about Carmella:

Carmella was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2006, had everything she owns taken away just to survive. Her disability was then aggravated by the oral chemo medicine and she developed muscle/joint issues.

In her search for employment, Carmella realized the looking for employment and reporting the results was very difficult for people who have disabilities. As a result she has developed a software program to assist people in recording, follow up with applications and reporting to appropriate individuals in a reporting period as specified by various case managers. This program is offered to those who have disabilities free of charge for the first month, followed by a quarterly cost of $9.95.

Carmella's dream stretches beyond her self and extends to everyone who has been left behind due to circumstances dealt to them with no control. Those who work with her feel it is an honor to witness her diligence to develop this technology for the disabled.

Other Nominees
There were no other nominees.

Employer of the Year

This award recognizes a business or organization for providing or increasing accessibility to their facility and/or providing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

2009 Employer of the Year Award Winner

The 2009 Employer of the Year Award goes to Petco in Fort Collins and Mary Preston-Smith, their general manager. Petco and Mary Preston-Smith were nominated by Deb Spotts and Cindy Sharpe.

Deb and Cindy say the following about Petco and Mary Preston-Smith "We know we can always count on Mary and her staff to assist us in any work assessments or work trials (3-4 hours) we have to schedule. All of the participants we work with are people with disabilities. Mary and her staff are always professional and positive and willing to work with all of our participants. One of our participants has worked part-time for Petco for the past three years. He enjoys his job and enjoys going to work every day. Our community is a better place because of employers like Mary and her entire staff. Thank you Petco."

Other Nominees
There were no other nominees.

Employee of the Year

This award recognizes and individual associated with providing services to persons with disabilities, who works to increase community awareness of disability concerns and to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities.

2009 Employee of the Year Award Winner

The 2009 Employee of the year award goes to Ed Peterson. The nomination was submitted by Terry Schlicting.

Terry writes "For many years, Ed has worked as a wheelchair repair technician in the Fort Collins community and Northern Colorado region. For a large population of people with disabilities, he is vital to their independence. Without Ed's assistance, individuals like myself would lose much of their freedom of mobility. He often times will make the repairs within the same day because he understands that without this freedom we are unable to carry out basic daily activities. Thank you Ed."

Other Nominees
Marlis Lane, OTR with Neuro Rehabilitation Svs,nominated by Haley Gaumer.

Service Provider of the Year

This award recognizes an individual and/or agency, associated with providing services to people with disabilities, who work to increase community awareness of and participation for people with disabilities.

2009 Service Provider of the Year Award Winner

The 2009 service provider of the year award winner is the Front Range Exceptional Equestrians program. F.R.E.E was nominated by Cheryl Sutherland. Cheryl writes the following:

"Front Range Exceptional Equestrians (otherwise known as F.R.E.E.) is a therapeutic horse riding program my daughter has participated in for the past 12 years. My 15 year old daughter Jessica has cerebral palsy and due to her disability, it is difficult for her to find friends or play in sports. F.R.E.E. has given her the opportunity to have a sport to call her own: horse riding! This has been very important to Jessica's quality of life and self esteem. F.R.E.E. is operated primarily by volunteers and exists on a minimal budget, which keeps costs to families low. I know several volunteers with F.R.E.E. that give many evenings per week to bring horses back and forth from CSU so kids and adults with disabilities can ride, because F.R.E.E. does not own their own facility. This is truly an exceptional organization.

F.R.E.E. provides awareness in the community of the needs for persons with disabilities makes horse riding accessible and increases the quality of life for participants on a weekly basis. Thank you F.R.E.E."

Other Nominees
Linda Free, Host Home Provider was nominated by Rachel Free. Janet Bayless, Service Dogs to disabled Coloradans was nominated by Ms. Ar Foster. Foothills Gateway Inc was nominated by Doris Whitely.

Spirit of Fort Collins

This award recognizes and individual, business or organization who exemplifies the spirit of assisting persons with disabilities in our community.

2009 Spirit of Fort Collins Award Winner

The 2009 Spirit of Fort Collins award goes to Rohan William Goel. Rohan was nominated by Pat Brelig. Pat writes the following:

"I would like to take this opportunity to recognize a very special individual in our community who has selflessly given of his time and talent to make our world a better place for children with disabilities. At sixteen, Rohan Goel is that young man who so thoroughly exemplifies 'The Spirit of Fort Collins'.

Rohan is a talented, self-taught budding architect who designed and built a Dr. Seuss themed playhouse to benefit Respite Care. The playhouse is beautifully detailed both inside and out, and took months to design and plan. After completing this year long school project, instead of simply turning it over to Respite Care for fundraising, Rohan persevered and devoted many, many hours marketing, planning ticket sales venues, and coordinating and conducting a "tour" of this whimsical playhouse on a large trailer throughout Fort Collins. This tour culminated with a grand raffle that raised significant funds for the organization. The playhouse is now located at the 'Gardens on Spring Creek'.

Rohan has demonstrated his talent and drive to transform his hopes into reality with objectives, plans and hard work with long-lasting results. He envisions creating a playhouse as an annual participative, fund-raising event Fort Collins. He realizes that he cannot do this alone: for the next project he is forming a team of teen volunteers, community mentors, and local business people to work towards this shared goal. Thank you Rohan."

Other Nominees
Transfort Bus Drivers were nominated by Haley Gaumer.

Volunteer of the Year

This award recognizes an individual who contributes his/her time and efforts to improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities.

2009 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner

The 2009 Volunteer of the year award goes to Linda Free/Host Home provider. Linda was nominated by Rachel Free. Rachel writes the following:

"Linda Free has spent her entire life making the lives of those with disabilities better. In her current capacity, she is host home provider for two individuals with disabilities. She also provides emergency respite for those in need. She works to improve the lives of all disabled individuals by any means available.

When a young man came into her home 11 years ago, he was not able to communicate, control his behavior, complete simple tasks, or bathe and dress himself. He was 21 when they met. Linda saw the opportunity to improve his quality of life. She developed a communication plan, started teaching him basic skills, worked with his service providers to raise expectation levels and met with his guardian to garner any additional ideas. Now this man can communicate with a flip book, developed and maintained by Linda; he can dress himself completely including looping a belt and putting on shoes; he can bathe himself completely with supervision; and he completes tasks to help out around the house.

Linda has accomplished a lot in the past. She has helped the State Department of Education in Wyoming develop education plans to further the growth of those with disabilities and she penned a book about autism with a co-teacher. She is a shining star in the lives of all she contacts. Thank you Linda."

Other Nominees
There were no other nominees.