Community Champions Awards Luncheon

Full group
The Community Champions Awards Luncheon recognizes volunteer leaders within Aberdeen and the region. Awards are presented on behalf of the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce, the Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Aberdeen Hotel Alliance, and the South Dakota Prairie Business Association. The 2019 event was held on Tuesday, February 12th at 11:00 am a the Best Western Ramkota Hotel. 

The awards presented and their recipients were:

The Woman of Spirit Award. The award, sponsored by the Chamber, replaced the ATHENA Award in 2008, but like the Athena is presented to a woman from the Aberdeen area who has attained and personified the highest level of professional excellence in her business or profession and has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way. The 2018 award winner was Dawn Williams.

The GEORGE Award. This award is presented by the Chamber to an individual(s) who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the community in trying to make Aberdeen a better place to live and work. A George Award recipient has stepped up and taken the initiative, rather than "just letting George do it."  The 2018 award winner was Mike Sommers.

The STAR Award. STAR stands for Students Taking Active Responsibility. The Award is presented to a Youth Organization for their dedicated efforts in the community. The 2018 award winner was the Girls Scouts of Groton and Aberdeen.

The Emerging Leader Award is presented to an individual who is in the first years of their career and has demonstrated leadership qualities within their businesses and community. The Emerging Leader Award was established to foster young leadership and enhance youth retention in our community. The 2018 award winner was Gina Karst.

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This award is sponsored by the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce. In the spirt of building on Aberdeen’s rich culture of entrepreneurship, Aberdeen began the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007. The 2018 award winner was Travis Schaunaman.

The Aberdeen Area Family Business of the Year Award.
 This award is co-sponsored by The Prairie Family Business Association and CorTrust Bank. Started in 2004, the award recognizes the accomplishments of a family business and its contributions to the community of Aberdeen and the surrounding region. Criteria includes that at least two family members work in the business, and/or multi-generational; positive contributions of the business to the welfare of the community; Success of the business; and an assessment of the health and unity of the family. the 2018 award winner was the Lamont family of Lamont Companies.

The Hometown Hero Award. The award is presented by the Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau to honor those special individuals or institutions who contribute to our community by going the extra mile to bring their group's meetings, conventions, or events to Aberdeen. Because of the dedication of these wonderful individuals that go above and beyond the call, our community benefits. The 2018 award winner was Special Olympics South Dakota.

The Spotlight Award. The Aberdeen Hotel Alliance is an advocate for continued community development through events and tourism and is proud to present the Spotlight Award. This award is presented annually to an individual or group in the community who has contributed to Aberdeen’s visitor industry through their advocacy for involvement, community service, event enhancement, and their part in promoting and shining a spotlight on Aberdeen. The 2018 award winner was Hub City Soccer Club.

ViTality Award.
 The ViTality award, sponsored by the Chamber, is presented to the individual who is the 'keeper' of the regional vision, or the person who lives in the regional growth and 'ViTality' spirit every day. The ViTality awarded annually to recognize individuals in a 17-county area of northeastern South Dakota who display enthusiasm for regional development. The namesake, ViTality, is in memory of Aberdonian, Vi Stoia. Stoia was often called a 'regional thinker', and felt that new businesses in Redfield or community work in Leola was a win for Aberdeen and the entire region. Stoia passed away in 2008 but his memory lives on in the form of the ViTality Award. The 2018 award winner was Mike Evans.

Military/Veterans Awards. The Military/Veterans Committee presented awards to active military, veterans, families and businesses. The 2018 award winners were: SGT Rylie Fleckenstein- Enlisted Member of the Year, SSG Kiel Dettler– NCO of the Year, Perry Schmidt- Rich Kezar Veteran of Armed Services of the Year, and Charles Dale Strom– Veteran Advocate of the Year.