During the Center for Human Services annual Recognition Luncheon Friday at the Sedalia Country Club, donors were noted but also those who had benefited and grown because of those donors.
“It’s an annual event to honor our donors and then we also honor some of the individuals that we serve that have made great progress during the year,” CHS Chief Executive Officer Ann Graff said before the luncheon started.
Graff said, with a smile, that presenting Personal Growth Awards to the clients of CHS “brings it all home.”
“These are people that have gained employment, they have done well growing personally; we have a set of twins we are honoring through Early Head Start that have done well,” she noted. “So, when you hear the stories, I think you’ll see. It’s really what we’re here for.”
She added that CHS can provide services to the clients because of the donors.
“It all comes together in the end,” Graff said. “You just feel great. I enjoy this probably more than any other event that we do during the year.”
During the event Graff greeted the audience and told them that “all people are created with the equal ability to become unequal.”
“Let that soak in for just a minute,” she added. “Not everyone has the same talent or gifts or abilities. Our personalities are diverse, but there’s one constant. We can, by using the abilities we have to the fullest, we can stand out from the crowd.
“Today we’re here to celebrate the achievements of several people who have used their abilities to stand out from the crowd,” she added. “That includes our donors and also includes the people we serve every day.”
Five CHS clients were recognized with the Outstanding Personal Growth Award: Cynthia Hammack, Mandy Black, Daniel Rhoads, Robert Petrie and 2-year-old Madalynn Surritt.
Madalynn was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy as a baby and overcame many odds to walk and eat again. She was attending the event with her parents Tyler and Erin Surritt and her twin sister Emmalynn, of Hughesville.
Wendy Larsen, with CHS Family and Child Development, said she had the honor to work with Madalynn, who was an “amazing little girl.”
“At a very young age of 24-months Madalynn and her family have encountered many obstacles, requiring expertise …,” Larsen told the crowd. “At 6 weeks of age, Madalynn was life-flighted to Children’s Mercy and was diagnosed with meningitis.
“As Maddy continued to grow, concerns about her development continued to rise,” Larsen added. “Through genetic testing and numerous evaluations Maddy was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 10 months.”
Larsen said Madalynn also had a range of other health issues that caused problems swallowing. Because of this she had surgery for placement of a gastrostomy tube. The g-tube gave her nutrition and reduced the risk of choking and aspiration. Through a vast support system, that included family, doctors and CHS, Madalynn overcame many of her health issues.
“Maddy has continued to overcome the impossible,” Larsen noted. “Madalynn’s condition affects her nerve fibers that carries messages from her brain to control her movement.”
Doctors told her parents she wouldn’t be able to walk for years, but on Friday Madalynn walked to the front to receive her award with her parents. She touched the microphone offered by Larsen and trotted off with her father following behind.
“My, have they underestimated Madalynn and her determination,” Larsen said. “We are all very proud of what Maddy has accomplished. Going from a life with limitations, to a life without limitations.”
Receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award was Julia Lehman. CHS Family and Child Development On-Site Director Shawn Sharp said Lehman volunteered to work with children.
“Her infectious laugh and her engaging smile was very obvious from the beginning,” Sharp said. “We knew she was somebody special.”
Sharp added that Lehamn did whatever was asked of her and was dedicated to the center.
“Most importantly was her passion to give to others,” she noted.
Lehman attended the Recognition Luncheon with her mother Marilyn Lehman, her sister Emily Long and with Gary McMullin.
Besides honoring many donors such as the City of Sedalia, Marshall Public Schools, area businesses, and CHS employees, the event also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. Graff noted the award is not given every year.
“That’s usually a board member that has been with the center for a number of years,” Graff said. “That is going to Mike Moser. Mike has been our (Children’s Therapy Center) board chair for the last six years (and) he’s been on the board over 20 years.”
Graff presented Moser with the award along with a framed photo, that will hang in the Children’s Therapy Center board room, and a clock.
At the close of the event Graff told the crowd she was thankful that CHS and the donors work in tandem.
“We can make miracles happen,” she added.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.