2015 Community Advocacy Award Winners
We had many wonderful nominations. Take a minute to meet our 2015 Community Advocacy Winners.
Bill Houlihan Professional Award
James (Jim) Runyon is an inspiration to many in Central Illinois. Jim has been a champion children through the span of his now 39 year career. He started his career as a teacher before moving on to become principals at both Peoria Notre Dame and Blessed Sacrament School.
Most recently, Jim has focused his efforts on improving the lives of children with disabilities in Central Illinois through his role at Easter Seals. As Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Governmental Affairs he oversees the states Early Intervention Program in several regions within Illinois.
He was also instrumental in the development and opening of the Academy for Autism and collaboration on a two year research study focusing on the effectiveness of the PLAY project in children with autism. His support for children with disabilities in Central Illinois is second to none which is why he is the recipient of this year’s Bill Houlihan Professional Award.
Hult Center for Healthy Living
Hult Center for Healthy Living is an extraordinary organization that specializes in the education of Central Illinois’s youth. They provide comprehensive health education and wellness services from pre-k through high school and specialize in topics such as general health, substance abuse, family life, and mental health. Central Illinois is truly at an advantage having this organization because Hult is able to talk about topics that can be difficult to discuss in a family setting but is vitally important.
Christine Zak-Edmonds Volunteer Award
In learning that her son had autism, Stephanie Brown from Southern Illinois chose to make a difference in the world. She founded the Autism Society of Southern Illinois chapter and was name president. While in that role, she helped create Buddy Baseball, sensory movie dates in the community, and color fun runs to bring awareness to autism. She also obtained funding to create a sensory gym. Her work in the community has created a large awareness for children with autism which is why she was awarded this year’s Christine Zak-Edmonds Volunteer Award.
Morton High School Basketball Team
Joey Stowell Youth Award
The Morton High School Basketball team was this year’s Joey Stowell Youth Award winner. The boys on the team have spent the last three years improving the lives of children in Central Illinois by raising money for Children’s Hospital of Illinois through their Game Ball Run. What started as a small fundraiser in one school has grown into a large fundraising, and philanthropic opportunity for the entire community. The teams work has encouraged the entire community to support the children of Children’s Hospital of Illinois. In three years, they’ve raised more than $100,000!
Dr. Kay Saving
Dr. Mary Schultz Physician Award
Dr. Mary Schultz was a champion for children throughout her lifetime. She was well respected by all who knew her. The Dr. Mary Schultz award was created to carry on Dr. Schultz’s legacy as well as honor other physicians who spend their life bettering the lives of children. Dr. Kay Saving is a physician that does just that. She specializes in pediatric hematology/oncology but knows there’s so much more that influences a child’s life. Dr. Saving was instrumental in the creation of the Pediatric Resource Center supporting victims of child abuse, Resource Link supporting families of children with mental illness, and Advocacy focusing on injury prevention. Children’s Hospital of Illinois and the children it serves is better for having Dr. Saving’s wisdom and drive to create a safe community for children.