McLean County Republicans have received three nominations for their 2022 Everyday Hero Award, which will be presented at the Lincoln Reagan Dinner on April 29. This year’s nominations were for two individuals and a group of three. This annual award recognizes one or more exemplary unpaid volunteers who have done exceptional work with volunteer engagement. This year’s nominations recognize the following:
Kathleen (Kathy) Schoenwetter, LeRoy Emergency Ambulance Service, Inc.
Nominated by Laura Willis, Supervisor
Kathy Schoenwetter is one of a kind. In 1994, Kathy joined LEAS as a volunteer. She was made aware of a need in the community for dispatchers to serve in the local department and thought, “I can do that.” When she went to volunteer, they conned her into getting her EMT so that she could be a provider. Kathy decided to take a class to get certified to help out. Since that day, she has never stopped serving. Kathy comes in with a cheerful heart every day and looks for ways she can help. She has done everything from checking in the ambulance to making sure it is ready for an emergency to making cookies for crew members to cheer them up. She takes younger members under her wing and helps mold them into great patient care providers. When there is an emergency, community members hope that Kathy is on (duty). She has such an empathetic heart and is always looking for ways to help our patients and everyone with whom she comes in contact. She has often seen needs on calls and gone back and met them. Kathy and her husband Kevin have taken in several people in need until they could get back on their feet.
Barbara Whiteman, Living Well United
Nominated by Lindsay Pray, Volunteer Instructor
Barb Whiteman recognized that eastern McLean County rural communities needed organized resources/activities/education and exercise for older adults. Barb became a volunteer senior fitness instructor in 2014 at the local gym. She started hosting events for seniors in restaurants, the bank basement, churches, wherever she could find a space. But she felt the rural seniors needed more. She applied to become a nonprofit with her own money, and Living Well United (LWU) was born. After years of preparatory work, she obtained a location and set the grand opening for July 4 to celebrate seniors gaining more independence by having resources so they could safely stay in their homes in their rural communities for longer. Barb has set up every aspect of the center as a volunteer with all volunteers. She designed the center so it is run by seniors and for seniors because she believes that keeping seniors engaged in our communities benefits everyone. Last year the center served 340 different seniors for 2,229 visits. Barb has brought programming to the rural seniors in Physical Health, Mental Health, Financial & Fraud, Technology, Transportation, Social Activities, and 11 organized Community Service projects. From the Weinermobile to hearing checks, book signings to bingo, cell phone/computer classes to COVID vaccinations and CPR, over 500 programs were hosted at the center this past year! She is relentless in her passion for bringing needed services/resources to seniors! Because Barb is bringing needed resources to rural seniors, they can stay in the best mental and physical shape possible to safely remain in their own homes in our rural communities, which truly is their heart's desire. This volunteer gives most of her time, much of her money, and all of herself to volunteerism. I think you will agree that she is the perfect candidate for the Everyday Hero Award.
Evan Easter, Corey Phillips, and Shane Bachman, Normal Police Department
Nominated by Don Knapp and Kathy Yoder, Colleagues
On August 30, 2021, these three officers ran toward gunfire at great peril to themselves in a neighborhood in north Normal to stop an active shooter. Without any doubt, their actions saved an untold number of lives. Coroner Yoder and I were on the scene shortly after their heroic efforts. The location and the circumstances are hard to describe even for us who were in complete and total safety when arriving on the scene – they were unimaginable for the officers first on the scene who ran toward the many bullets shot not just at them but at the residents of the neighborhood. Other officers also responded and are more than worthy of recognition as well. The three we have nominated were the first on the scene and unquestionably put themselves in grave peril. It is also beyond dispute that they saved countless lives that day by their actions. They embody the very definition of public servants and the very best that our officers and this community offer.
The McLean County Republican Central Committee will select the MCGOP Everyday Hero Award winner. Regardless of who receives the award, we recognize all nominees as Everyday Heroes!