Cleveland 100 will honor more than 80 emergency services first responders from the Bradley, Cleveland and Charleston communities during its 2014 annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon Thursday.
The luncheon will be held at Mountain View Inn, beginning at 11 a.m., and will feature awards in two categories: Dedicated Professional and Community Services.
Brenda Lawson, Cleveland 100 president, said this year’s Cleveland 100 will honor 29 Dedicated Professionals and seven Community Service recipients, plus a host of Award of Excellence Citations.
Cleveland 100 board of directors met earlier this month and went through nominations from the various agencies in Cleveland and Bradley County.
“When you go through the stories in the nominations, it reminds us again what an important role these first responders play in our society today. And it also reminds us of the dangers that befall them each and every day. There are lifesaving stories and stories of crimes solved and victims protected. They are all inspiring and we wish we could give each and every one of them an award this year,” Lawson said.
Lawson noted the awards fall into two categories: Dedicated Professionals, for those who go above and beyond in the line of duty, and Community Service, for those whose acts not only fell into their official duties as emergency services, but also reached out to benefit and/or affect our community.
Awards of Excellence are citations that commend first responders who may have assisted or played a role in the various situations surrounding these awards.
Cleveland 100’s top award is the Courtney and Betty McGrady Award, given in memory of the couple who helped Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland along with his wife Sandra, organize and establish Cleveland 100 in 1996.
“This award is not given every year,” said Lawson. “We hold it for extraordinary situations and this year we will be giving this award.” Rowland will make this presentation in memory of the McGradys.
“Cleveland 100’s mission is threefold,” explains Mayor Rowland. “We have a standard mission to provide immediate financial assistance for dependents of police, fire, rescue and ambulance personnel who lose their life in the line of duty.”
He noted when a tragedy occurs, “our Cleveland 100 board springs into action, making immediate contact with family and offering financial assistance and help in any way. We have been called into action on three occasions over the past 18 years,” he noted.
“While our main focus is aid to families of fallen first responders, we also focus on recognizing our local heroes once a year during our annual meeting and awards luncheon. Our third focus is on education. We encourage first responders to further their education and training as we emphasize scholarship opportunities,” Rowland said.
“When Courtney McGrady died in 2003, Brenda Lawson endowed a scholarship in his name at Cleveland State Community College. Since 2004, there have been 10 people take advantage to further their education in a career in emergency services. The college also has several other scholarships specified for emergency services.”
Rowland noted in judging this year’s nominations, “we saw several incidents where advanced training was key to the overall outcome of the situations. We encourage our police, fire, rescue, EMS, and others to seek out advanced training in all areas. We also hope making the scholarship monies available might encourage others to choose a career in emergency services.”
Lawson said in the judging this year, “we found a heartwarming story of survival and we invited some special guests to join us when our first responders receive their awards. We think this will be a special time for the men and women who took part in this life-saving mission.”
During this, Cleveland 100 will also give a “Heroes Award” that has not been given in the past.
“It’s a first for us, but we found it an all inspiring story and one worth recognition,” she said.
Cleveland's various agency leaders will be on hand to join their department men and women as they receive their awards.
Also attending will be Cleveland's legislative delegation including state Sen. Mike Bell, state Rep. Kevin Brooks, state Rep. Eric Watson and former TBI Director Larry Wallace, who is now vice president of Tennessee Wesleyan College.
Wallace was keynote speaker in 1996 when Rowland and McGrady formed the first Cleveland 100 board, and he has attended all annual meetings since 1996.
Lawson said the Cleveland 100 board has “been faithful through the years and some have been with us since we first began.”
Charter board members are John Holden, Dave Gilbert, Scott Taylor, Drew Robinson, Janey Patten, Tom Rowland and Brenda Lawson.
Other board members include Jeff Cunningham, Kelvin Bishop, Stephen Crass, Joe Wilson, Zandra Welch and Angie Underwood, who succeeded her mother, the late Betty McGrady in 2012.
Welch serves as board secretary, while Bishop is treasurer and Joe Wilson is vice president.
Rowland and former Cleveland Police Commissioner and City Councilman Mitchell Lyle, are the only life members of Cleveland 100 to date.
Tickets are given to first responders, and distributed by their department heads, at no charge.
Their lunch is financed by sponsoring table donors: Athens Federal Community Bank, Athens Insurance Company, At Home Primary Care, Inc., Bank of Cleveland, Brenda Lawson & Associates, Check into Cash, Don Ledford Automotive Center, GIBCO Construc-tion, My Mix 104.1 WCLE Radio, Olin Corporation /Chior-Alkali, Pioneer Credit, Skyridge Medical Center, Sterling Pointe and U.S. Money Shops.