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Hometown Hero medals to be presented Saturday

The JRM Foundation for Humanity will honor its Idaho Hometown Hero medalists at the Stephens Performing Arts Center in Pocatello Saturday.

The theme of the 9th annual celebration is “Breaking Boundaries” and “will honor individuals who are sharing their resources, their time, and their ideas for a better tomorrow.”

The medals pay tribute to individuals who show unique characteristics and achievements across the state of Idaho. You can find more information here.

This year’s Idaho Hometown Hero medalists include:

Robert Wallace of Pocatello
Robert Wallace aka “The Bike Guy” created the program Big Brother Lowriding, which combined his passion and compassion in a way that helps connect those in need with transportation and mentorship. Big Brother Lowriding is a youth group that helps keep at risk youth off of the streets. In 2013 he started working at The Salvation Army, which completely changed his life. Today, Wallace is a cook and janitor at the Salvation Army in Pocatello. Even though he had a rough upbringing, his attitude towards making things better is truly amazing.

Ronda Cheatham of Blackfoot
Ronda Cheatham is the pantry director for the Blackfoot Community Pantry where she spends more than 120 hours of volunteer time each month. Reaching more than 550 families each month and distributing more than 1,100 boxes of food, her tireless work and continual inspiration to others ensures that hungry people in her community are fed managing 35,000 to 48,000 meals a year—more than 350,000 pounds of food—to needy individuals in and around Blackfoot, Idaho.

Stephanie Taylor-Silva of Idaho Falls
Stephanie Taylor-Silva is the District 7 Probation and Parole Free2Succeed Mentor Site Director and is also a peer support specialist for drug and alcohol recovery. She has been a keynote speaker at many events including the Serve Idaho Conference, ICADD, Association of State correctional Administrator. As a reentry specialist, Taylor-Silva is a strong supporter of law enforcement and volunteers on three boards; The Center for Hope, Community Suicide Prevention, and the Bonneville County Behavioral Health Crisis Center. She also volunteers with anti-human trafficking efforts in Idaho and helps women relocate and find resources. She is a strong advocate for unifying the community and educating them to the importance of mental health, addiction recovery, suicide prevention and criminal justice reform and corrections. Taylor-Silva speaks at schools about the dangers of drugs, has volunteered with the Idaho Meth Program, and has a Tedx Talk about her work, “Breaking Chains and Saving Lives.”

Bill Maeck posthumous of Idaho Falls
Bill Maeck, passed away February 16, 2018, and he deserves to be remembered as a posthumous Idaho Hometown Hero because of all the work he did in south-east Idaho. Maeck was known for his philanthropy and generous heart. He loved animals, education, and Idaho. Maeck donated over $500K to help build the Snake River Animal Shelter in Idaho Falls and as a result has helped to save so many animals from being euthanized as well as secure a forever home. He also built the Tauphaus Park Zoo Bill Maeck Educational Facility, which opened in February 2019. Maeck also provided significant support in building a medical facility at the College of Eastern Idaho, over $1.73 million. A self-made man, Maeck’s business knowledge provided him a life to allow him to be philanthropic in magnificent ways.

Luke Mickelson of Twin Falls
Luke Mickelson was looking for a service project for his Church youth and heard about a family whose children were sleeping on the floor. From there, he started building beds for the family’s children and soon after began building many more in order to make sure “no kid sleeps on the floor” in Twin Falls. Luke found himself building furniture for families transitioning from homelessness. He had turned his desire to help into a nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Like quit his job and sold his personal items to help fund the non-profit. Today, his non-profit exists on a national level with numerous chapters across the U.S. Luke has been featured on CNN Heroes of 2018 and other television programs as well as in other media for his endeavor. Luke says that just a few hours in his warehouse building a bed is changing a child’s life experience. Having a place to sleep and a bed to call your own when nothing in their life is predictable, is a beautiful gift of security.

Toni Carter of Idaho Falls
Toni Carter joined the Idaho Falls community in October 2016 when she was hired as the Inclusion and Diversity Strategy Director at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Carter’s arrival in Idaho not only brought one of our state’s largest employers a high-energy change champion with a track record of helping large organizations develop cultures that are inclusive, innovative and willing to take risks, it also brought the community a committed philanthropist, a dynamic public speaker, a published author and a former elected official whose nonprofit and community commitments have spanned ten organizations, seven states and over $200,000 in fundraising for at-risk and underserved populations. Her collective impact was recognized in March when she was named an Idaho Business Review 2019 Woman of The Year. Carter’s role at Idaho National Laboratory is entirely about breaking barriers. She collaborates with business leaders and strategic partners to foster environments of collaboration and dialogue. Carter came to the INL after a 23-year career at Motorola Solutions in Chicago. In the community, Carter volunteers her time with a number of local organizations including the YMCA Learning Center of Idaho Falls, the Idaho Falls Women of Excellence and the Idaho Falls African American Alliance. In her personal life, Carter has been an active mentor of young women, and wrote a memoir, “When Trouble Finds You: Overcoming Child Abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Domestic Violence, and Discovering the Remarkable Power of the Human Spirit.” She has also spread this message through new channels as a regular speaker at TEDx Idaho Falls.

Norm and Beth Hill of Pocatello
Norm and Beth Hill have given countless hours of community service across a wide range of activities along with their support of young people. They have served as presidents of the Pocatello Rotary Club, and under their leadership the club arranged for hosting students from foreign countries to live and study in Idaho for a year. Norm and Beth’s support of the Idaho High School Rodeo also reaches youth from across the state. The couple also dedicates a large part of their property to a vegetable garden, managed by high school students under their guidance. The vegetables produced there are donated to needy Idaho families through the Idaho Food Bank program. In addition, Norm and Beth have served a variety of other organizations in the past couple of decades including Valley Pride, where they have been members since its inception and received the “Black Belt Volunteers” award in 2017. Norm and Beth have also served as Team Captains in the construction of Brooklyn’s Playground as well as part of the Ross Park Zoological Society where as members, for many years, they were instrumental in the refurbishing of the Zoo’s tree house. At Idaho State University (ISU), the couple has been recognized for 30 years of contributions serving as overall campaign chairs for the “I Love ISU” scholarship drive and as Calling Team chairs for several years. They were recognized by ISU with the William J. Bartz award in 2008. Both are active in the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce, Pocatello Chiefs, Southeast Idaho Community Action Agency (SEICA) and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, Beth has served as chair of the Pocatello Regional Medical Center Board of Directors, and on the board of Bannock Memorial Hospital. She is a past president of the United Way of SE Idaho, and past president and charter member of the Zonta Club of Pocatello.

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Rita Haggardt of Pocatello
Rita Demopoulous Haggardt has been recognized by AARP with the Community Service Award for all she has done in her community over the past years. Her efforts have enriched the lives of friends and neighbors and made our community a better place to live. Every year, as part of the National Volunteer Week, from April 15 to 21, the AARP joins organizations and communities across the country in recognizing exemplary volunteers who serve their fellow citizens in countless ways every day. The AARP owes much to our local chapter and the Retired Educator’s Association of Idaho volunteers, whose dedication and service make it a great organization. The following is a list of Haggardt’s volunteer and organizations that she serves in: Girl Scouts volunteer; Pocatello American Association of University Women, 1977 to present; League of Women voters, various positions and committees; Zonta, many offices and past president; Bannock Kiwanis Club, various offices; American legion Auxiliary, student essay committee chair; Pocatello Education Association, various offices and past president; ISU College of Education student teacher adviser for 13 years; Fourth-grade teacher at Syringe Elementary for 32 years; Alpha Omicron Pi Society, current president; NAACP, member; Trinity Episcopal Church, various boards; Pocatello neighborhood Watch board, past president; Feeding the 5,000 representing the Episcopal church, executive board and past chair; Pocatello Chiefs, chamber member and education committee; Delta Kappa Gamma, various office and state level; Southeast Idaho Retired Teachers, member and various committees; “I Love ISU” calling campaign, several years; Active Scholarship endowment, ISU College of Education; Idaho Democratic Caucus and Southeast Idaho United Way, volunteer.

Muffy Davis of Sun Valley
Muffy Davis was one of the top ranked U.S. Junior Ski Racers in the late 80s. She was poised to not only be named to the U.S. National Ski Team, but her racing ability would have allowed her to have the chance to attain her childhood dream of competing in the Winter Olympics. One morning skiing at over 45 mph, Davis went through a safety fence on a downhill training course and hit her head and back on tree leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Davis put all of her energy in to learning how to live life in a wheelchair graduating from Stanford University, competing and winning medals in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Paralympic Games, inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, became a valued member of countless committees and foundations supporting the disabled community, got married to the love of her life and had a beautiful daughter. After undergoing surgery to fuse her C4 and C5, Davis recovered winning back-to-back World Titles in Handcycling and was given the opportunity to compete in the 2012 London Paralympic Games for the U.S. Her success in London earned her a Guinness World Record for the most gold medals won in Road Cycling in a Paralympic Games. In 2017 Davis was nominated by the United States Olympic Committee to run for a seat on the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Governing Board. She was elected in September of 2017 to the Governing Board at the IPC General Assembly in Aby Dhabi, UAE. She will serve a four-year term as one of 12 elected members helping to steward the future of the International Paralympic Movement. In addition to sports competition and representation and public speaking, Davis is serving her first term as a representative for District 26 in the Idaho State Legislature.

Lisa Sanchez of Boise
Storyteller and City of Boise Councilmember, Lisa Snchez loves to celebrate her culture and honor her family through storytelling. Snchez represented Idaho on a four week Rotary International Group Study Exchange to England in 2007, and she turned to her storytelling background while serving as the bilingual civil rights investigator for the Idaho Human Rights Commission, and then as a paralegal for a legal services non-profit, as she listened to painful stories about discrimination and abuse. For nearly ten years, Snchez worked for the Girl Scouts where she again turned to her storytelling ability to recruit volunteers and girls to the program. As a lifetime member, Snchez recently completed a two-year term as an at large member of the GSSSC Board of Directors, focusing on diversity and inclusion in board development. In 2017, Snchez’s storytelling was the key to helping her make history as the first Latina to campaign for and win Seat 2 on the Boise City Council. Snchez’s first campaign for elected office was a grassroots effort, and resulted in her winning by 18 points over a more established and better-funded opponent. Snchez’s new role as councilwoman is providing her the opportunity to bridge the City of Boise to the diverse community it serves. In 2018, Governor Otter appointed Snchez as a commissioner to Serve Idaho, the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism. Snchez was recognized by the Women’s and Children Alliance as one of 49 Tribute to Women and Industry (TWIN) honorees for 2018. Snchez was also recently honored by the Boise State University Alumni Association as a 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient during homecoming week. Sanchez was also chosen as one of the Idaho Business Review’s 2019 top 50 Women of the Year. She holds a BA in Communication from Boise State University, where she was the first Latina elected student body vice -president and president, and she is a proud member of the Latino Chapter of the Boise State University Alumni Association, where she recently helped to establish a scholarship endowment to support first generation and immigrant college students, the American Dream Scholarship Fund.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Idaho Legislature Representative Muffy Davis. Davis, who lives in Ketchum, is a graduate of Wood River High School and Stanford University; seven-time Paralympic Games medalist in two sports: alpine skiing and cycling; professional speaker; previously employed in healthcare development; elected member of International Paralympic Committee Governing Board; member of International Olympic Committee’s Legacy & Sustainability Commission, IOC’s 2026 Evaluation Commission, U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Advisory Committee and Los Angeles’ 2028 Executive Board.

“Through my personal tragedy I have learned not only to survive but, Thrive,” said Davis. “I have learned to look for and create opportunities, find solutions instead of excuses, overcome obstacles, break through walls, and believe in myself. I know the importance of determination, perseverance, and a positive attitude. I am passionate about spreading my knowledge with individuals and companies that truly want to succeed personally and professionally. It’s an honor to be part of the Idaho Hometown Heroes celebration. It’s everything I believe in.”

The awards will begin with a free car show at the Performing Arts Center.

The award ceremony is also free and open to the public. Following the medal ceremony is a ticketed dinner and gala event, also at the Performing Arts Center.

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