Mayor Tom Rowland said he was proud to represent Cleveland at the event and receive one of the three city awards. The awards were given based on projects completed on or around Oct. 25.
“I thought meeting the people from around the nation and hearing about their events was outstanding,” Rowland said.
Rowland said some of the people he talked to had heard about People for Care and Learning’s Build a City campaign and about the Run Now group that is running to Boston.
“That makes me even prouder,” the mayor stated.
A check for $10,000 made possible through Newman’s Own was presented and made out to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Bradley County.
“Paul Newman was always very enthusiastic about Make A Difference Day and was thrilled to be part of such an initiative. Newman’s Own proudly continues the tradition to help recognize the good that is going on around all of us. The dedication of the people involved in these winning initiatives is incredibly inspiring,” Tom Indoe, president and chief operating officer of Newman’s Own, Inc., said in a USA Weekend press release.
It turned out to be a busy day with little time for pause as Rowland and his wife, Sandra, flew to Washington for the ceremony and returned to Cleveland at 9 p.m.
Besides receiving the award, a highlight of the trip was meeting the “Today Show” hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie and talking with NBC News correspondent Jenna Bush Hagar.
The “Today Show” hosts were recognized for the volunteerism campaign Shine a Light.
Hagar had been to Cleveland a couple years ago for the “Empowering Women” event sponsored by the Boys and Girls Clubs.
“She had some nice things to say about Cleveland,” Rowland said.
A comment from Jon Bon Jovi also stood out: “I’m not the rock star. You’re the rock star; I’m just here to speak.”
Bon Jovi is a Grammy-award winning musician, philanthropist and founder of The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, according to a USA Weekend press release.
Rowland noted Cleveland is a giving community, not just one day a year but throughout the year.
He said he hopes to see local participation in Make a Difference Day further expand.
“It was just good sharing our story … Many had heard of Lee University and our industry here,” Rowland said.
“I don’t think it could have been a better opportunity to spotlight Cleveland in a positive light.”
He said his assistant Sue Zius had been instrumental in compiling the needed information for the application. A variety of activities, involving more than 800 people, were documented and submitted.
“Gannett’s purpose is to serve the greater good of the communities we reach and the volunteer efforts that take place on Make A Difference Day inspire us to live that purpose. Every action, big or small, makes an impact and will hopefully serve as an inspiration for many others to join in years to come,” said Jim Lenahan, editor-in-chief of USA WEEKEND.
Cleveland has participated in Make a Difference Day for more than 20 years.