Rusty Awards honor real-life heroes

The Bell County Judge and Commissioners’ Committee on People with Disabilities takes pride in its Annual “Rusty” Awards banquet. The event is an opportunity to bring recognition to those individuals who have made a positive impact on people with disabilities, as well as honoring those with disabilities and their achievements.

Information is going out early to remind people of the awards. Nominations are due by Aug. 30.

The goal to getting the nominations in early and select those to be honored by mid-September.

So far, 12 nominations for 12 individuals have been received, said Susie Marek, a member of the committee.

People who are being recognized need to be notified in enough time for them to invite family, co-workers and friends to the dinner, said Peggy Cosner, chairwoman of the Bell County Judge and Commissioners’ Committee on People with Disabilities.

The Rusty Awards acknowledge those who have made a difference in the lives of people with disabilities and those with disabilities who have made an impact on the community.

“The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual’s contribution to the county,” Cosner said.

The Rusty Awards are a community effort, individually and collectively, to share these inspirational stories, Cosner said.

Not all of the awards are presented each year.

The committee is asking community members to take the time to nominate worthy individuals for one of the following awards:

John C. Garth Person of the Year: Must have a disability under Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and live in Bell County. This person must have made a significant achievement in their lives — social, economic, effort, inspirational, etc. — and contributes to the community.

Jim and Daurice Bowmer Family Member of the Year: A citizen of Bell County who has had a positive impact on a relative or relatives with one or more disabilities. An entire family can be nominated for this award.

Shirley Biels Health Care Worker of the Year: Must have been in the health care or fitness-related field in Bell County during the past 12 months and made a positive impact on a person or persons with disabilities. This can be any field in the health care profession.

Laura “Pat” Taylor Advocate of the Year: A government, non-profit employee or a volunteer or individual within Bell County who has made a positive impact on persons with disabilities through their work or effort. Pat Taylor was a public employee known for “going the extra mile” to help people in need.

Jennifer Phillips Award for Courage: Does not have to be a Bell County resident, but must be a resident of Texas. The award is for courage and spirit in the face of disability. This person is a “fighter.” Can be a disability the person is still facing, or a disability a person has overcome. A person’s effort, not just the results, will receive heavy consideration.

Employer of the Year: Any business, industry or organization that employs persons with disabilities in Bell County. The number hired or business size does not matter. It is important how the employer gives persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to work in an environment that allows them to do their best on the job.

Media Person of the Year: Any member of the media that has contributed, through public communications, to eliminate attitudinal, social and physical barriers regarding persons with disabilities. Also, accurately portrays people with disabilities. Any type of media available to the public in Bell County is eligible for this award. The committee reserves the right to forward the awarded nomination for consideration of a Barbara Jordan Award.

Bell County Judge’s Meritorious Service Award: Must be a Bell County resident or organization that has made an impact on the life or lives, of persons with disabilities. This award is an “open” award and can be awarded to any resident, group, or organization.

Military Service Person of the Year: Must have served on active duty in the Fort Hood/Bell County area during the preceding 12 months. This award is to recognize an individual service member whose efforts, actions, or contributions have significantly enhanced the quality of life for disabled persons within the military or civilian community.

Harry Wilson Athlete of Year: Must be a Bell County resident with a disability and associated with athletics. Winning or losing in the aforementioned athletic competition is not a criteria.

Pat Elliott Inspiration Award: A Bell County resident who is an inspiration to people with disabilities. This person does not have to have a disability.

Nomination forms are available through HOCTIL, Heart of Central Texas Independent Living.

If you know of someone you might want to nominate as a potential awardee, fill out and submit the nomination form Aug. 29.

Awards will be presented at the annual Rusty Awards banquet, which will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

For questions, call or email peggy.cosner@hoctilc.org or susie.marek@hoctilc.org or call Cosner or Susie Marek at 1-800-326-4921 or 254-933-7487.