Chamber award recipients honored at gala

Gratitude and a little bit of humor prevailed during Thursday’s 2020 Chamber Awards Gala.

The eight recipients of the individual awards expressed gratitude to their family, friends, co-workers and to the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce during the ceremony, which took place at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino.

A couple of them acknowledged that the recipients didn’t contribute to the community for the sake of being recognized with an award.

“They’re doing what they love doing,” said Frank Zerr, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, in his video acceptance speech. “People work in this community knowing that what they do helps others in the community and I believe we don’t really do it for the recognition.”

Gary Nolley, who received the Outstanding Citizen award, echoed that sentiment later on.

“We do what we do so we can make a difference in our community in our own way,” he said.

Nolley also announced that earlier that day, he learned the Blue River Cross Country Course, which he created and is the director, was selected to host the 2021 NCAA Div. 3 regional championships, the second time that Shelbyville will be the host.

Julia Hamblen, the recipient of the Shining Star award, said she was “beyond honored” to be receiving the award.

She said she was known in the community as “the 4-H girl or the FFA” girl, and she wore those titles proudly.

“These organizations have allowed me to step out of my comfort zone to try new things and excel in leadership through different contests and activities, and work on the scale of public speaking, where I now compete at local, state and national levels.”

In a moment of levity, she was followed with Nolley’s award.

After being introduced, Nolley thanked the chamber for the award but jokingly said he did not thank them for having to follow an award-winning speaker such as Hamblen, drawing laughter from the crowd.

In another humorous moment, the chamber presented Golden Pineapple Customer Service winner Sandy Leffler with a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke, revealing that she had given up the drink for Lent.

The two winners who work in local school systems thanked their schools.

Golden Apple Outstanding Educator winner Sara Roberts acknowledged Triton Central Middle School principal Bobby Thompson and Northwestern Consolidated superintendent Chris Hoke for their leadership.

And Cindy Dunham, winner of the Pay It Forward award, who volunteers at Loper Elementary, thanked the staff for nominating her.

“I do encourage whoever can to go to a school and volunteer,” she said. “It is so much fun to help those students and the teachers get some stuff done.”

The John A. Hartnett Sr. Business Person winner, Terry Morgan, said being recognized by his hometown was “quite an honor.”

“Anyone who knows me will know that community and a sense of belonging to a community means an awful lot to me,” he said.

But it was Greg Gerline who might have been the biggest winner of the night. The ceremony opened with Gerline receiving the Dick Kitchen Volunteer of the Year award.

And once the individual awards, which had been announced in advance, were handed out, the ceremony turned to the three awards that hadn’t been revealed.

Shelby County Pantry Pals won the non-profit award winner, an organization that Gerline helped start as a member of the Shelbyville Rotary Club.