One of those who has been helping others wants to do even more to serve his community, and with a little luck and help from his neighbors and social networking, he might be able to do just that.
Throughout the month of May, the Sears Blue Tool Crew collected nominations of inspiring dads across the country. The Sears Blue Tool Crew and Ty Pennington worked together to narrow the field to 10 lucky finalists for the second annual “Unsung Heroes: Dads Making A Difference Contest. The grand prize winner will be determined through online voting and announced on Facebook on July 11. The winner will receive $30,000 in services and assistance from the Sears Blue Tool Crew toward a community project.
One of those finalists is Cleveland’s own Matt Ryerson.
Ryerson is a father of 5-year-old Jackson and 2-year-old Chloe and is currently vice president of Community Investment Strategies for United Way of Bradley County. He serves as the chair of the Unmet Needs Committee and sits on the Long-Term Recovery Committee helping victims of the April storms. He is also the president of the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland and has been involved with numerous community service projects throughout the area.
He and his family were also directly affected by the tornadoes, as their home was one of the hundreds in the community which sustained damage on April 27. His wife, Heather, watched as Ryerson not only worked toward having their home repaired, but as he worked diligently helping others work toward getting assistance.
Heather served as a volunteer with the “Extreme Makeover” of the Sharrock home in Rossville, Ga., earlier this year and became familiar with the Sears “Blue Tool Crew.” When she learned of the crew’s “Unsung Heroes: Dads Making a Difference” contest, she nominated her husband.
“Matt has worked so hard to help us get back to normal here at home, but I have seen him work even harder trying to help others, here in our neighborhood and in our community. But the true reason I nominated him was that this is his spirit all the time. He loves this community and his heart is to serve,” Mrs. Ryerson said. “I am so proud of him for the example he sets for our children, and believed he would be a great choice for this contest.”
On Thursday, Mrs. Ryerson was notified that her husband was one of the 10 finalists for the contest. Official word from Sears followed on Sunday.
“I have been so blessed to play a small role in so many local efforts, but what I am most proud of is being a dad,” Ryerson said. “I am truly a product of my community in that I have had so many Godly men as role models and an incredible wife who has inspired me to be a better man that this is, ultimately, in my opinion, a community award.”
“The competition was tough this year, and selecting the 10 finalists was no easy task,” said Ty Pennington, Sears Tool spokesperson. “The volunteer work of these dads truly reflects the spirit of Sears Tools Do It Together program. DIT is all about using your tools and talents for the greater good, and these dads have done just that in their communities.”
Each of the 10 finalists is already a winner and will receive $3,000 worth of tools from the Sears Blue Tool Crew. The grand prize winner will have the opportunity to further advance his community work through the $30,000 in services and assistance from Sears. Once the grand prize winner is selected, the Sears Blue Tool Crew Do It Together team will bring the winner’s project to life.
“We are thrilled to give these 10 deserving dads the opportunity to receive tools for their community projects, and are excited to give Americans the opportunity to choose an outstanding finalist who will ultimately receive the grand prize,” said Bill Kiss, chief marketing officer, Tools for Sears Holdings. “We hope the inspiring stories from our ‘Dads Making a Difference’ finalists will motivate America to Do It Together, volunteer and make a difference in their communities as these gentlemen have clearly done.”
The Sears Blue Tool Crew encourages friends and family in the finalists’ hometowns to place their votes and spread the word in their neighborhoods — to help their neighbor win the grand prize project.
“To me, this is simple,” Ryerson said. “This community has done so much to build me up — it is my opportunity to give back. Those funds can make a genuine impact on our community.”
Brenda Abel, president and CEO of United Way of Bradley County, said Ryerson’s thoughts of helping others affected by the tornadoes show his character and is another example of the caring community that is Cleveland and Bradley County.
“Matt has worked hard to help others affected by the tornadoes, while also keeping busy preparing for our annual campaign which begins in just a few weeks, and we are very proud of him for being one of the finalists for this honor,” Abel said.
The Sears Blue Tool Crew is encouraging Americans to vote and help Sears recognize these very deserving dads who use their tools and talents for the greater good of the communities in which they live.
Starting today, and running through July 3, the 10 finalists will be featured on the Sears Blue Tool Crew Facebook page. Go to www.facebook.com/searsbluetoolcrew, choose to “like” that page, and then you will be able to vote for your favorite “Unsung Hero” and their community once per day every day through July 3.
Official contest rules are available at the Sears Blue Tool Crew Facebook page under the “Dads Making a Difference” application.