Baltimore County News
Hundreds cheer honorees at awards luncheon
At today’s 26th annual Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities Awards Ceremony, an enthusiastic crowd recognized the achievements of ten individuals, employers, advocates and organizations for their outstanding achievements and contributions.
About 200 people attended the ceremony and luncheon hosted by the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities. The Commission provides support and advocacy for County residents with disabilities and works to ensure that County programs, buildings and services are open equally to all persons, regardless of their disabilities. In addition, the Commission provides resources and referrals on obtaining services not only from the County but through programs offered by the state and federal government.
“Life is full of challenges, but no matter what those challenges may be, one thing remains true – it’s best not to face them alone,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “That’s why we’re so pleased to recognize the remarkable efforts of people living with disabilities in our communities and the people who help them in their journey.”
This year’s honorees include:
- Kelli Szczybor and Michelle Strekfus of Angel Park, winners of the Accessibility Award;
- Julia Stockburger of Perry Hall Middle School, winner of the Student of the Year Award;
- Pamela Saterlee-Williams of Baltimore County Public Schools, winner of the Teacher of the Year Award;
- Alban CAT Company in Rosedale, winner of the Employer of the Year Award;
- Maggie Hutson of the Timonium Edible Arrangements, winner of the Employee of the Year Award;
- Marty Sweeney, Head of School for the Odyssey School, winner of the Educational Advocate of the Year Award;
- Ed Pfaff, winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award, is an instructional assistant at Parkville High School and football coach at Towson High School who volunteers with the Challenger Softball Program;
- Gary Madigan, Penn-Mar Organization, winner of the Employee Advocate Award;
- Kathy Vecchioni of By their Side, winner of the Family Support Award;
- Paralympics gold medal winner Larry Hughes; the first recipient of the new Community Service – Courage Award.
A few interesting stories…
Kelli Szczybor and Michelle Strekfus are accepting the Accessibility Award on behalf of the four thousand volunteers their group inspired to help raise $1.5 million to build an all-inclusive playground and amphitheater in Perry Hall that is specifically designed to be the largest and most accessible playground in the Baltimore region for children with special needs.
Student of the Year honoree, Julia Stockburger of Perry Hall Middle School, is an outstanding Braille reader who has won national competitions, is an avid piano and trumpet player and computer techie, and she loves attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
Employee of the Year Award recipient, Maggie Hutson, is known by her co-workers at Edible Arrangements in Timonium as an ace at cutting and skewering fruit, not to mention her chocolate strawberry dipping finesse. They credit her enthusiasm and positive attitude as a daily morale boost.
Larry Hughes, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran and 1996 Paralympics gold medal winner in the discus throw, is the first recipient of the new Community Service – Courage Award. He has translated his love of athletics into a devotion for physical fitness training, coaching, and motivational speaking and is the founder of Maryland Wheelchair Athletic Promotions.
Marianne Bishoff and her colleagues at Alban CAT’s Pulaski Repair Shop in Rosedale take employee mentoring to a whole new level, empowering their Arc Baltimore supported employees, treating them like family, and striving to help them grow, learn and succeed.
Annual Commission on Disabilities Luncheon Marks 25th Year
It was a full house at the 25th annual Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities Awards Ceremony yesterday afternoon where Executive Kevin Kamenetz helped to recognize the achievements of Baltimore County citizens with disabilities, their families, employers, advocates and organizations.
More than 300 people attended the ceremony and luncheon hosted by the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities. The Commission provides support and advocacy for County residents with disabilities and works to assure that County programs, buildings and services are open equally to all persons, regardless of their disabilities. In addition, the Commission provides resources and referrals on obtaining services not only from the County but through programs offered by the state and federal government.
“This year’s extraordinary honorees have made a difference in so many lives, whether by providing employment and education opportunities to people with disabilities, or by serving as an example of people living with disabilities who are making outstanding contributions to our communities every single day,” said Kamenetz.
This year’s honorees include:
- Jerry Easterly, Principal of Battle Monument School, winner of the Education Advocate Award
- BCPS Special Education Specialists Sara Egorin-Hooper and Susie Swindell won the Outstanding Commitment to the Arts Award for their annual Very Special Arts Festival at Oregon Ridge Park
- Ryan Henderson, UMBC student and Freeland resident, won the Student of the Year Award
- Mr. Ryan Guimont of Kenwood High School, winner of the Teacher of the Year Award
- Valari Dorsey and Granny’s Restaurant in Owings Mills, winner of the Employer of the Year Award
- Robert Zerance, employee of Graul’s Market and Freeland resident, winner of the Employee of the Year Award
- Dianna Morgan of the Arc Baltimore, winner of the Disability Support Award
- Ed Slattery of Lutherville, winner of the Family Support Award
- Club 1111, The League for People with Disabilities, winner of the Innovative Community Program Award
- Ronald Day of the League for People with Disabilities and Towson resident, winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award
- Boy Scout Troop 730 of Towson-Parkville, winner of this year’s Special Chairperson’s Award
Opening a World of Recreation for People with Disabilities
One of the greatest joys of my job is to watch the expression on the face of a parent or grandparent of a child or young adult with disabilities when they learn about the programs offered by the Office of Therapeutic Recreation (TR).
It’s like watching a light go off or separating the clouds to reveal a bright beam of sunshine. “I didn’t know” is often what we hear.
Specifically Designed Programs
The Department of Recreation and Parks is quite proud of the services offered through our “TR” programs. Under the superb leadership and advocacy of an exceptional staff and dedicated volunteers, TR offers a wide variety of programs designed specifically for individuals with disabilities, their family members and friends.
Imagine opening up a world of adaptive sports and fitness programming as an option in the life of an individual with disabilities. There is the Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program offered as a cooperative effort between TR and the Maryland Council for Special Equestrians. Individuals with special needs can participate in “Barn Buddies,” “Meet the Horse” field trips, and two summer camps “Ride with Pride” and “Everything Horses.”
“The Sky is the Limit” community theatre in Dundalk offers people with disabilities the chance to shine on stage and behind the scenes in various productions through the year, including a summer performing arts camp.
TR options also include arts and crafts, adaptive aquatics through the League for People with Disabilities, Inc., and adaptive water-skiing in cooperation with Baltimore Adapted Recreation and Sports at Rocky Point Park in Essex.
TR operates 10 summer day camps that run for five weeks throughout the county with swimming, nature, crafts, sports, games and field trips as only a part of the fun and well supervised programs.
Social dances, social programs, sign language classes and horticultural therapy (TALMAR – Therapeutic Alternatives of Maryland) are a part of the vast, impressive and valued services offered through TR.
Details of the TR program are readily available through the office of Therapeutic Recreation by simply calling for your copy the bi-annual newsletter “Leisure Resources” (PDF) at 410-887-5370 (410-887-5319 TTY/Deaf).
Please help us deliver the message of this service by shouting from the rooftops; TR’s a true point of pride in that Baltimore County crown; don’t let it be a secret…let this hidden jewel shine!
Revised September 26, 2016