SIDNEY — Jodi and Ray Prater, of Fairborn, formerly of Sidney, were named Shelby County’s 2018 Outstanding Senior Citizens during annual ceremonies in the Cameo Theatre at the Senior Center, here, Tuesday.
The Praters were responsible for, among other things, getting the Vets to D.C. program started.
“Ray and Jodi Prater have chaired the Military Prayer Mission Committee at the Lockington United Methodist Church for the past several years, along with participating in the Sidney Emmaus community,” said Mistress of Ceremonies Amy Breinich, director of Sidney Alive. “For several years, they have sent packages to our servicemen and women overseas. A picture of each soldier was placed on the altar and a prayer cross made by the Praters was laid next to it to remind people to pray for the (soldier’s) safe return. Ray would make small crosses put in others’ cars or pockets to remind them to pray.
“Ray wanted to honor the veterans with a Field of Flags which was added to the Vietnam Wall that comes to Sidney,” Breinich continued. “Ray spent days traveling from organization to organization raising money and selling flags to cover the cost of the Vietnam Wall. They ran the concession stand during the Field of Flags. All the money went to the Vets to D.C. program.”
Ray organized the Shelby County Woodcarving Association. Jodi served on the board of the Sidney Emmaus Community as the secretary. Together, they ran the kitchen for many years. Ray sat on the Shelby County Applefest Committee and set up a woodcarving demonstration at the Shelby County Historical Society for several years.
The couple celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary earlier this week.
“What happened with our ministry (the Vets to D.C. program) never would have happened, it wouldn’t have been successful without the man upstairs,” Jodi said in accepting the award. “Veterans have always been important to us. I remember being a child and sitting on the curb to watch a parade. My dad grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me up. ‘The flag’s coming and you will stand,’ he said.
“This is a great country. It has its problems, but we all have problems. We can solve them if we stay united — it is the United States of America — and love and help each other. Thank you for the honor. Thank you for being Sidney and Shelby County. We love you all,” she said.
Ray said the award really should go to all of Shelby County because it was residents who donated funding to make the Vets to D.C. trips possible.
More than 200 people attended the luncheon, served by members of the organizing committee.
Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst proclaimed Tuesday Senior Citizen Day in Sidney. Shelby County Commissioner Bob Guillozet spoke on behalf of the board of commissioners.
“We hope everyone has a good time,” he said.
The 2017 Oustanding Shelby County Senior Citizen, John Laws, of Sidney, was also honored, as were six nominees for this year’s award. The nominees were Janet Born, Margaret Helmlinger, Joyce Jones, Jane and Donald Kemp and Linda Long.
The 2018 Community Service Award went to Wilson Health Auxiliary. It was accepted by Jenny Meyer, the organization’s volunteer coordinator.
The theme of the event was the Shelby Awards. The Cameo Theatre was decorated with gold streamers as trophies for the winners gleamed on stage in front of search lights playing across the stage curtain.
Nominees walked the red carpet before they and Meyer were presented with gold colored trophies featuring stars. In addition, attendees voted for people to receive other awards, “just for fun,” said committee chairwoman Shelia Nuss.
Pam Moorman was named most patriotic; Janet Born, most enthusiastic; Ron Wise, best prankster. Elva Towzey got the trophy for having the biggest smile; Carol Bowser for having the most contagious laugh; and Terry Lenhart for having the best sense of humor.
The Rev. Alan Leach, of Connection Point Church of God, gave the invocation. The meal was prepared by the Sidney Care Center. Entertainment was provided by Joyful Noize, four singers who each received a bouquet of roses.
Jessica Fourman, of the Area Agency on Aging, PSA-2, told attendees that the agency is a resource for information and assistance in nine counties, including Shelby.
Dozens of door prizes were awarded. They had been donated by Ohio Living Dorothy Love, Fair Haven, Wilson Health, Culver’s, Sidney Care Center, American Nursing Care, Auto Lube, Pizza Hut, the Pavilion, Apria HealthCare, Wilson Home Health/Hospice, Dasco Home Medical Equipment, the Senior Center of Sidney and Shelby County, Ohio Living Home Care and the Landings of Sidney.
Table sponsors were Chris Meyer, Jason Weigandt, DayBreak Adult Services, Ohio Living Home Care, Sidney Care Center, Wilson Health, the Pavilion, Mike Trubue, the Landings of Sidney, Fair Haven, Ohio Living Dorothy Love, the Senior Center, Wilson Health Home Care/Hospice and Hospice of Miami Valley.
Committee members, in addition to Nuss, were Amy Breinich, Robin Burleson, Adrienne Fortkamp, Stefanie Hale, Rachel Hale, Molly Helmlinger, Jenny Huelskamp, Hallie Hurley, Jennifer Knoop, Pam Martin, Darla Wilges and Eileen Wiseman.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.