Each year since 2011, Idaho Hometown Hero Awards have been presented to members of Idaho communities who are extraordinarily dedicated to hard work, self-improvement and community service. This annual spotlight on great work reminds us of the many Idahoans, including those unrecognized, who are continuously helping others and inspiring other caring actions through their leadership.
Through Congressional Record Statements, I have had the opportunity to help congratulate the award recipients and call attention to their acts of kindness. Ten Idahoans working in various fields are 2018 Idaho Hometown Hero Medal recipients:
Liyah Babayan, a refugee from Azerbaijan living in Twin Falls, is being honored for her efforts to raise awareness and resources to address chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in refugees, especially children.
Christian Colonel, of Pocatello, is a former Major League Baseball player honored for using his understanding of alcoholism to reach out to area high school students about the severe impact of alcohol abuse and addiction.
Russell Davies, of Chubbuck who is president of PTSD Veteran Athletes, is being honored for his extraordinary commitment to veterans and the local community.
Pocatello small business owner and former police officer Nicolas Garcia is being honored for his charitable activities in the community that include sponsoring a Thanksgiving dinner to provide food and fellowship to others, donating generously to Highland High School Hispanic Awareness Leadership Organization, support for local law enforcement and many other community efforts.
Peggy Elliott Goldwyn, of Sun Valley who is the founder of the Family of Woman Film Festival, is recognized for her mentorship of young women, using filmmaking to raise awareness about issues affecting women and children, and creating opportunities for other filmmakers and storytellers who stand up for women’s rights.
Thirteen-year-old Alexander Knoll, of Post Falls, is receiving the award for his human rights advocacy, international speaking and app invention, including an app to help people with disabilities navigate public spaces by providing information about wheelchair ramps, disabled parking, braille menus and more.
Carrie Madden, of Idaho Falls who lost her daughter, McKenzie, to Domestic Violence, is being honored for turning the loss of McKenzie into a nationwide movement that brings recognition to this violent epidemic that impacts families nationwide.
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Reginald R. Reeves, an Idaho Falls attorney and executive director of the Sun Valley Charitable Foundation Inc., is recognized for his service to others in many capacities, including his facilitation of donations of food and other goods to those in need and providing pro bono advocacy for active military and veterans and service to others in other capacities.
Lesli Schei, of Chubbuck, is being recognized for her outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in serving children across Idaho through the Parent Teacher Association as well as serving abused, abandoned and neglected children in southeastern Idaho.
Bowen Toomey, an 11-year-old who was born in Serbia and lives in Eagle, has not let physical challenges hold him back and is being recognized for his energy, determination and inspiration.
Drs. Fahim and Naeem Rahim established this award to recognize outstanding Idahoans working for the betterment of our communities. I commend this year’s awardees for their leadership and representation of countless Idahoans who contribute each day to bettering our communities.