Lee’s Summit cares about character.
Nearly 700 guests celebrated character within the community Jan. 25 during the 15th annual Mayor’s Character Breakfast at John Knox Pavilion. The event, presented by Lee’s Summit CARES, recognized 12 citizens and one Lee’s Summit business who embody that spirit character.
“Those nominated and selected for these awards demonstrate a specific quality of character throughout the year,” Lee’s Summit CARES Director Rachel Segobia said. “The awards recognize everyday citizens who are not necessarily in leadership roles but who lead by inspiring others.”
Award recipients are chosen by the city’s Character Council, which brings togther people from all walks of life in Lee’s Summit — including schools, city government, law enforcement, parks and recreation, media, business, faith, and health care.
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As part of this year’s theme, “Inspiring Hope,” there were 11 Reflections of Character Awards presented for things such as Generosity, Courage, Family, Respect, Sportsmanship, Kindness, Appreciation, Responsibility, Perseverance, Cooperation, and Citizenship.
Prior to presenting the awards, Segobia and Dr. David Carlson shared each of the recipient’s stories and how their unique character contribution inspired hope.
Among the recipients were Laura and Jay Aronson, who received the Reflections of Character Award for Courage. The couple lost a daughter in 2015 to sudden cardiac arrest.
But from their grief, and in a search to help others, the Aronsons formed the Emma Marie Aronson Foundation, which raises awareness and increases education and testing about sudden cardiac arrest.
Artist Dave Eames received the Award for Citizenship for making Lee’s Summit a more collaborative and inclusive community.
“This was my first Mayor’s breakfast,” Eames said. “When I heard I had been nominated, I was so appreciative and also grateful. I have worked with so many people in that room and I know what they’ve done for our community.”
Dozens of Lee’s Summit elementary, middle and high school students also were among the guests at the breakfast, a tradition that started several years ago.
“I like how this is a place for everyone,” Summit Lakes Middle School eighth-grader Sydney Handel said.
Jayci Stone, another Summit Lakes eighth-grader agreed, “This is a great opportunity to recognize people who have done great things in our community.”
But unlike awards presented for education or business, the Mayor’s Character Breakfast honors a much wider cross-section of the community.
“It’s an opportunity for us to get together and celebrate our community members. This event reaches everyone in our community, not just a select few,” said Lee’s Summit Police Officer Clarinda Woods, who serves as the school resource officer at Summit Lakes.
Kansas City Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre delivered the keynote speech, sharing stories about personal struggles in his life and finding people of character who inspired him to move beyond them.
“Where does hope come from? Hope comes from a leader, from someone who models behavior or a lifestyle that gives us hope and something to aspire to,” Lefebvre said. “They give. They serve. They present a way to live our lives and they inspire. They give examples of character and reflect back to us who we want to be.”
The breakfast is the collaborative effort of many partners, including St. Luke’s East Hospital, Flooring and More Concepts, and Just Frame It.
Flooring and More Concepts — one of the breakfast’s presenting sponsors along with St. Luke’s East Hospital and Just Frame It — received the Ethics in Business Award.
“I love that this breakfast gives the chance for the entire community to come together and recognize people who have done such amazing things,” said Tina Chace, marketing and operations manager for the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council. “This city is built on collaboration and partnership. We work together as a community to make this a great place to live.”
Nominations for the 2019 Mayor’s Character Breakfast awards are due by Oct. 10 and can be made online. Next year’s event is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2019.
2018 Mayor’s Character Breakfast award recipients
Ethics in Business Recipient — Flooring and More Concepts, Ed Lipowicz
Lifetime Achievement Award — Nancy Bruns
Reflections of Character Award Recipients
Generosity — Sarah Graff
Courage — Laura and Jay Aronson
Family — Dee Anna Ross
Respect — Karrigan Blankenship
Sportsmanship — Hayden Mitchell
Kindness — James Brock
Appreciation — Dawson Kruser
Responsibility — Jennifer Hunsinger
Perseverance — Kayla Lagud
Cooperation — Rex Brown and Bob Crance
Citizenship — Dave Eames