Character Breakfast will recognize 'everyday heroes'

Everyday heroes from throughout the community will be honored at the annual Mayor’s Character Breakfast, scheduled from 7 to 9 a.m. Jan. 24 at the Pavilion at John Knox Village, 520 NW Murray Road. The popular annual event, hosted by Lee’s Summit CARES, typically includes a sellout crowd of close to 700 attendees.

Tickets for the breakfast are $20 and available at LSCARES.org. Attendees are asked to purchase their tickets by Jan. 11.

Awards being presented this year include the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ethics in Business Award as well as 11 Reflections of Character Awards. The 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Shirley Fearon, founder and former president of ReDiscover, a nonprofit community mental-health center providing comprehensive programs to individuals and families, including those with limited financial means or no insurance. 

In 1968, Mrs. Fearon joined forces with several area ministers to bring affordable mental-health services to southern Jackson County. She worked tirelessly to solidify federal block grant funding, established a quality treatment team and conducted a successful “buy-a-brick” campaign to build the first facility. In addition, Mrs. Fearon was the first female mental-health executive director in Missouri. Later, she was instrumental in identifying the need for statewide coordination of mental-health services and establishing the Missouri Coalition of Community Mental Health Centers. 

Mrs. Fearon has been recognized at the state and national level and was appointed by the governor to serve on the Missouri State Commission for many years. Individuals nominating her for the Lifetime Achievement Award praised Mrs. Fearon for her leadership, commitment, involvement and consensus-building skills. 

“Over the past 50 years, hundreds of thousands of people across the Lee’s Summit, Raytown and south Kansas City area have benefitted from the vision, drive and dedication of this brilliant and remarkable lady,” said Holly Carothers in one of the nominations. 

“Without a doubt, she has distinguished herself as a most worthy recipient,” wrote Kathy Carter in a nomination, “for her influence on the public mental-health system has been profound, and her extraordinary vision and leadership will continue to provide an enduring legacy.”

Other awards being presented at the 16th annual breakfast include the Ethics in Business Award, which will go to Cartridge World of Lee’s Summit, as well as the Reflections of Character Awards.  Character award winners for this year are Aubrey Newell, Family category; Brianne Orr, Cooperation; Ivette Salgado, Kindness; Josh Haddad, Perseverance; Alex Anderson, Sportsmanship; Sariah Fouladi, Respect; Jo Pickert, Honesty; the John Knox Village Hobby Hut volunteers, Generosity; Morgan McGurk, Responsibility; Justin Hamilton and Craig Lingholm, Courage; and Scott Wright, Appreciation. 

In addition to the award presentations, Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird will present a message. Keynote speaker for the event will be Olivia Van Ledtje, nationally recognized kid keynote. Ledtje has gained worldwide recognition for her speeches, her podcast and @TheLivBits social media accounts. Ledtje’s work on LivBits has been featured all over the world, including conferences in Taiwan, Singapore and England. 

The 10-year-old served as keynote speaker at the Digital Citizenship Summit at Twitter Headquarters and was the youngest keynote speaker at Alan November’s 2017 International Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston. 

Ledtje was honored at Google Headquarters in San Francisco with a Digital Rockstar Award as well as a #Digital4Good award for her work on LivBits. She recently launched a podcast, “The KidLitShow,” produced by Panoply in New York City and featured in the Pinna app.

The Mayor’s Character Breakfast is presented by Lee’s Summit CARES with support from Saint Luke’s East Hospital and Flooring and More.

Lee’s Summit CARES is a community coalition dedicated to preventing youth substance use and violence, promoting exemplary character and empowering positive parenting. For learn more, visit http://www.lscares.org/. You may also follow Lee’s Summit CARES on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.