Thank you to KyForward.com for partnering with us for this year’s (our Award’s second) Most Encouraging Kentuckian Award and helping us share their inspirational stories throughout our Commonwealth.
If you haven’t yet, you may read about each Finalist below… and if you’d like to attend our 2012 Awards Night on December 12th in downtown Lexington, just RSVP here!
The entire family of Sarah Roberts Hart (Russell Springs)
After her tragic murder this June, Sarah’s family – her husband, children, mother, father and sisters – raised well over $70,000 just this summer for a brand new scholarship fund they created in her honor, for Russell County High School students wanting to pursue college degrees in Pharmacy or Medicine.
And not only that, but the entire world rallied around them. On the morning of August 11th, Sarah’s friends, family and supporters hosted a race in Russell Springs, also in her honor, naming each mile after her three children – and one that was on the way. While most local races might attract 200-300 participants, they they drew nearly FOUR THOUSAND runners and walkers, plus participants from all around the world who participated in their virtual “Run With All Your Hart 4 Miler.”
When tragedy strikes, it’s quite understandable if we throw in the towel. But Sarah’s family is in the midst of overcoming unspeakable evil with tremendous good – and it’s a lesson for all of us Kentuckians.
A picture is worth a thousand words… and it’s almost impossible to find a picture of Bob where he isn’t showing a zest for life. Bob is a great example of how someone can change his life and be an influence in doing so.
Just a few short years ago Bob was admittedly an overweight, out of shape guy… but something helped shape him. He began to workout and chose to live healthier.
Then, in an unfortunate twist of irony, just as he was getting his body healthier, cancer struck. He was given a 50/50 chance of survival.
Well, he not only survived, but has allowed his experiences to now shape his entire life. As part of his cancer recovery he joined the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. His goal upon starting: to run a half-marathon. His instructors worked with him, and not only did he accomplish that goal a year ago, earlier this year he completed a full marathon.
Since then he has decided to pay back those who helped him by paying it forward to others. He now works as an instructor… a motivator, an encourager and a trainer in the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. Week in and week out he helps mold those who, like himself, were given just a small chance of living… but also like himself, have survived and now want their life to thrive.
Encouragement is in everything he does… from his big goofy smiles, to his daily Facebook/Twitter updates, to the love of life he shows whenever you talk to him. Bob always talks about others who have encouraged him, but rarely does he get the praise from those of us he continually encourages.
Tripp has been “instrumental” from in Lexington’s now famous March Madness Marching Band since its beginning in 2008. He compiles, researches, choreographs, creates, composes, directs and is the mastermind of this all volunteer community marching band. Tripp is constantly encouraging everyone in the band, no matter the music skill level, to grow and improve to grow musically and socially. MMMB is like an extended family to many of us and through our well-loved leader, Tripp, he brings out so many attributes in all members. We are so very honored to be a part of his mad-scientist creation!
Debra is the creator of Debra’s Social Stimulus – with the beautiful theme of “People, Planet, Purpose.” Through her Social Stimulus, people become more aware and encouraged to donate to a local charity. Some charities include, God’s Pantry, Esther Hurlburt’s Legacy Home Ministry, Seedleaf, a Haiti fundraiser, and becoming more aware of local businesses on N. Limestone, S Limestone, and the Distillery District. She encourages others in Lexington to invest in their community.“When we’re in difficult times, it’s especially important that we stay connected,” Hensley said. “But it’s more than that. I want people to see parts of the community they might not know much about and learn about our history and culture. I want them to meet and interact with people they might not otherwise. And I want them to help the local economy.” - Debra Hensley
Tony Florence is the owner of Collectibles Etc. in Lexington – often considered the best comic book and collectibles store in all of Kentucky, primarily for its supreme customer service and attention to detail.
As the owner of Collectibles, Etc. Tony hosts many free events at his store (Free Comic Book Day, 24-Hour Comic Book Creation Day, Halloween ComicFest, art events, etc…) to not just promote the great form of literature that is comics, but to also promote local arts and artists in the community.
**Tony’s nomination was submitted by one of his employees, a remarkable sign in itself.
Jesi Bowman (on the right in this photo) is a fighter! At 35 she has already had one open heart surgery, five strokes and may need a second open heart surgery. She was learned how to walk six times.
But you would never know she has faced so much adversity. She is a mother, a wife and positive and bright spirit and a true inspiration to be around. Despite her health battles she has never given up and is always upbeat and hopeful for the future. She is a tireless volunteer on her daughter’s PTA and for the American Heart Association and is always thinking about ways she can help others. I am amazed by her energy and enthusiasm for life. I feel blessed to know her and inspired by the way she is living her life. I only hope I have done her story justice because it is an amazing one. Jesi was also recently featured in Lexington’s Herald-Leader, by longtime columnist Merlene Davis.
In October of 2011, Krissie started the LexRunLadies running group and has personally invested in each runner and their successes – however it is that they define success.
What began with a small first group run has turned into a multi-city, multi-county, multi-state empire of women who run, sort of run, run-walk, hobble, scoot or otherwise convey themselves down the road for the sake of getting out there and being active.
And even more recently, she’s visited Miami, Florida to earn her coaching certification in order to offer even better services to runners she has the opportunity to mentor. Krissie puts out weekly schedules, runner profiles, and celebrations which bring our running community together – as well as lift us up.
Krissie is deserving of such recognition but, would never expect it. She most likely looks at the open nomination posting and imagines who has encouraged her without thought of all the miles, bib numbers, friendships, and runners’ journeys that she has had a hand in this past year.
From another Kentucky woman’s nomination:
LexRunLadies has become more than just a running group. It is a network of runners all over the country who contribute to the general good of the running community. It is a gold mine of resources, personal experiences and encouragement. This special circle of women has become a safe haven for struggling and excelling runners to vent frustrations and share triumphs without being judged.
Krissie Bentley BUILT THIS. She built, out of necessity, what she couldn’t find for herself. A running group built on the principles she exemplifies every day: Courage, caring, encouragement and, since we’re running, sweat. Krissie constructed a support system out of thin air. Literally.
I can think of no one who has done more for the local running community this year than Krissie Bentley. She is a born leader and mentor, put with us here on this earth to accomplish big things.
Susan is one of the planet’s most decorated female triathletes – and lives and works right here in Central Kentucky. And her work is constantly encouraging others to go and do. She shares her well-earned advice and lessons learned from being a world-class athlete to all kinds of people from all over… especially in the swimming pool.
Susan is continuously focused on making you more successful in your goals and never ceases offering sincere words of encouragement. And what she says, she really means!
Bobby is a young man who has been obese his entire life, reaching 363 lbs. at his heaviest. With support and encouragement from family and close friends, however, he began to change his lifestyle – by exercising and eating right. Over approximately the past three years he’s dropped to 187 lbs. – that’s almost a 50% weight reduction!
He’s an inspiration to all people who have struggled with a lifetime of obesity – but don’t want to yield to the risks of obesity surgery. With dedication and education, as Bobby has personally proven, you can achieve your goals naturally without the needless risk of surgery and its potential complications. In addition, you ultimately change your behavior which is the fundamental goal responsible for continued healthy living. People like Bobby inspire others, plain and simple.