Amid all the craziness of election season, the Idaho Press held what I consider to be the best event I’ve been involved with. We hosted our second annual Spotlight Awards show and dinner at the Nampa Civic Center.
For those who are not aware of this event, for the past couple of years, we’ve been shining a spotlight on a person or group each week for something they did that was featured in the newspaper recently. It might be someone who donated a kidney, helped survivors of domestic violence or saved someone’s life.
We were sharing these good-news stories every week in the paper, so we decided to make them stand out with a special “Spotlight” feature in the paper each Sunday. You can find those spotlights now in the Life section each Sunday, usually with the Front Porch column.
After doing these spotlights for a while, we decided to throw an awards ceremony for all 52 honorees and elevate a few of the honorees with special awards, such as “Nonprofit of the Year,” “Gift of Health Citizen of the Year” and “K-12 Educator of the Year.”
This was modeled on our hugely successful Sports Stars awards show, which honors the area’s top high school athletes. That event is going strong at four years and has gotten better every year.
Our inaugural Spotlight show last year was a great success right out of the gate. Our keynote speaker last year was Kenton Lee, the founder and creator of The Shoe That Grows. His speech on how small things can make big differences in the world was a rousing, inspiring success. After the event, we at the Idaho Press all looked at each other and said, “How are we going to top that?”
For this year’s event, we had the great good fortune of having our new community engagement editor Jeanne Huff doing the emcee honors, who did a phenomenal job of keeping the party lively and fun.
When we were trying to figure out who to invite as our keynote speaker this year, we called a special meeting to brainstorm. About two minutes into the meeting, Jeanne said, “Jim Everett,” and the meeting was over.
Jim Everett, current College of Idaho co-president and longtime CEO of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA and previous Spotlight honoree, gave such a beautiful and moving speech that I’m pretty certain there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was just the right words and the right mood for such a special occasion. Thank you, Jim, for making a special night even more special.
For me, what made the night complete were the standing ovations that each top honoree received during the final round of awards at the end of the program.
As I started the evening, I mentioned that no one in the room does what they do to get their name in the paper, to get recognition or to get some trophy.
But it sure is nice.
To see Shawn Tegethoff, an elementary school principal who brought therapy dogs into her school, make her way to the stage amid a sea of people who are standing and applauding in her honor. To see Kim Deugan, executive director of Advocates Against Family Violence, in tears as she crosses the stage to receive her trophy. To see Mike McGowan, who worked for Albertsons for 50 years, get a standing ovation for his five decades of service to one company.
Honoring the good, celebrating the unsung heroes in our community. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Spotlight Awards banquet.