YMCA awards honor younger generation
Youth was celebrated Jan. 31 at Memorial United Methodist Church in Thomasville as a part of the 41st annual Tom A. Finch YMCA awards dinner.
CEO Tommy Hodges and a handful of children from the child care program helped to welcome donors, volunteers and members to the night's celebration. Hodges masqueraded as disc jockey for the event and introduced his band of children from the Y as "DJ Believe and the Potentials," a theme to exhibit the youthful face of the YMCA.
"Believe. It's a powerful word," said Hodges. "You know the significance of that word throughout the Bible. You know the significance of that word throughout your daily activities. You know the significance of that word. Think about how important that word is in the lives of these kids."
The evening's finale was reserved for a 10-year old boy who was recognized as winner of the Spirit of Inspiration Award. Alan and Jennifer Gaddy, parents of Elijah Gaddy — a former member of the child care program at the YMCA who tragically passed away from a rare form of anemia in August — accepted the posthumous award on his behalf.
"To be inspired by someone, many of us think of someone famous or maybe an individual a lot older than ourselves," said Laura Sweitzer, director of child care. "Elijah Gaddy was not old and he was not famous, but he was as inspirational as anyone you could meet. In Elijah's 10 years here on this earth, he was an inspiration to all those whom he came in contact with. He had a passion for life and everyone he met."
Among the other award winners were Sabrina Owen, Becky Owen Johnston and Chelsea Turner, who all received the Coaches Awards. Gail Aderhold was given the Spirit of Caring Award, and Steve Cranford, outgoing chairman of the board of directors, was presented the Thurston Bowman Distinguished Service Award by Tony Hyde. Hyde took the podium Thursday for the first time as newly-installed chairman.
The prank of the night was pulled on Russ Gobble, recipient of the Spirit of Fun Award. Gobble was asked to be one of three presenters of the award and was required to read several lines about the recipient.
At no point throughout the presentation did Gobble become aware that he was in fact the subject of honor.
"Certain people have a gift for creating fun and special talents for others," Gobble said. "This person is gifted and skilled in many ways. Our recipient is intelligent, thoughtful, sincere, dedicated, loyal and knows when it is time to be serious.
"On behalf of the academy," Gobble joked. "The winner is...Russ Gobble."
Phil Kanoy was honored with the Chairperson’s Award, while the two organizations honored were Ruby Tuesday, with the Community Partner Award, and the Brown Finch Foundation, which claimed the Red Triangle Award.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.