Wheelchair athletes shine at state meet
Several wheelchair athletes from around Minnesota competed June 6-7 at the Minnesota State High School League track and field meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. As the league has made changes to allow wheelchair competition, more athletes are representing their schools.
Athletes competed in rain during part of the meet. No new state records were set.
In the boys’ Class A shot put competition, Blake Collier of St. James Area High School won the title. Collier also won the discus throw. All-time records in this sport were set in 2012, by Irondale’s Mark Braun.
In girls’ Class AA competition, Marissa Bartels of Delano High School had a strong state meet. Bartels won the girls’ discus throw, shot put throw, 100 meter dash and 800 meter dash.
Stacy Bates of Andover won the 200 meter dash wheelchair race in Class AA. Bates holds the state record in the 100 meter wheelchair dash and was the defending state champion, but finished second to Bartels.
Bartels also defeated state record holder and defending champion Jolyne Super of Spring Lake Park High School to win the 800 meter crown. Super finished second. Bartels is a junior, so fans will see her compete in 2015.
Securian Financial Group wins award for service
Securian Financial Group’s long-standing practice of helping Minnesotans with developmental disabilities build careers earned the company the Employer of the Year award from Lifeworks Services, a nonprofit that matches its clients with disabilities with job openings throughout the Twin Cities and Mankato. The award was announced in June.
“Our goal is to integrate people with disabilities into every facet of community life with an emphasis on meaningful work and independence,” said Judy Lysne, president and CEO, Lifeworks Services, Inc.
“It’s not just about jobs; it’s about careers. Securian has helped us realize that dream for our clients. As parents, it’s what we imagine for all of our kids.”
“When Lifeworks first began its partnership with Securian, the messenger position in Securian’s mail center was entry-level with a high turnover rate,” said Beth Coppock, Lifeworks job coach. “We placed our clients in those positions, reducing the turn-over rate and bringing appreciation and enthusiasm to the job.” One by one Securian hired them, providing salaries and full benefits.
“At Securian, our Lifeworks associates enjoy not just a job, but a career,” said Barbara Baumann, Securian Financial Group, who chairs the Lifeworks board of directors. “Their work is solving a business problem for us, and it can lead to financial security and independent living for them.”
Lifeworks clients are matched with jobs at Securian with full pay and benefits. On-site coaches help them learn their jobs and all the other aspects of being employed, such as travelling to and from work. Currently, eight Lifeworks clients work in different areas of the company with an average tenure of 14 years.
Ground broken for new playground
A Shoreview elementary school is close to its dream of a fully accessible playground. Groundbreaking for the Turtle Lake Elementary School project was June 6, with a large group of supporters on hand. The “A Playground for Everyone” project was led by the Turtle Lake Elementary PTA Playground Leadership.
The new playground replaces equipment that is 20 years old. A community building project is planned for July 24-28.
The new equipment is designed for people of all ages and physical abilities. The organizers spent more than two years planning the project. They raised more than $170,000. Shoreview Mayor Sandy Martin gave the group a $5,000 check at the groundbreaking event.
“I get to do a lot of groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings,” Martin told the Bulletin newspaper, “and this is the best.”
American Red Cross honors heroes
The American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast honorees this year include three people with disabilities. The breakfast was held in June at the Minneapolis Hilton.
Kate Ross, a St. Paul resident and blood donation advocate, received a 2014 American Red Cross Give Life Award for her work promoting blood donation since being injured in a lifechanging car accident in 2009. The Give Life Award is sponsored by the American Red Cross North Central Blood Services Region and presented to an individual whose commitment to blood and platelet donation plays a significant role in ensuring the health of patients in our local communities and throughout the country.
Exhausted from being a full-time student and working full-time, Ross fell asleep at the wheel while driving. Her car hit a guardrail and her leg was severed. Ross was trapped for an hour waiting for someone to discover her.
In spite of the trauma and loss of her leg, Ross is a positive, energetic young woman who is determined to give back the resource that helped her through 19 surgeries—life-saving blood. She is now a regular blood donor inspiring others to donate blood. Ross also works for amputees’ rights.
Cottage Grove resident Shane Linehan received a 2014 American Red Cross First Responder Hero Award for his emergency response to a cardiac arrest survivor. The First Responder Award is sponsored by St. Jude Medical Foundation and presented to an individual or group of the public service community who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
While snow skiing, Linehan saw a young snowboarder fall to the ground after completing a run. Linehan quickly responded and, because of his emergency training as a deputy sheriff, recognized the signs of cardiac arrest. After administrating CPR, Linehan used an AED device to resuscitate the 17-year-old snowboarder.
In February, Linehan assisted the young victim’s family further by helping them move after a house fire took their home. The family is grateful for their son’s survival and to have a friend in Linehan.
After the skiing incident, Linehan admitted that he had recently retired from his position as a deputy sheriff due to issues associated with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Conquering his fears in a crisis situation has helped him to work toward self-healing.
Another award winner with PTSD is Dennis Davis of Anoka. Davis received a 2014 American Red Cross Military Hero Award for his work improving the lives of military veterans. He is an example of using negative experiences to improve the lives of many in a positive way.
The Military Award is sponsored by United Healthcare Military & Veterans and presented to an active, reserve or retired member of the Armed Forces or ROTC who acts above and beyond the call of duty.
A survivor of PTSD from his service at the military’s only mortuary facility, the still-active Air Force Reserve captain was faced with unfair stereotypes that affect many of our service members as they transition to life after military service. Determined to eliminate negative associations of veterans in the work place, Davis began consulting with veterans and employers. His work connected veterans to jobs by translating the values they bring, such as integrity, excellence and honor, to potential employers.
Davis has written two books about employment matters and PTSD, has proposed legislation to improve hiring practices for veterans, and has worked to ensure that military members are represented in the Minnesota Vikings’ football stadium construction. This small-business owner and father of three is a great dad and provider to his young family.
Three others also won awards. Former St. Paul City Council member Pat Harris received the Community Hero Award for his work with Serving Our Troops, an organization that sends a message of hope to American soldiers. Duluth resident Zoran Pedisic received the Good Samaritan Hero Award for his courageous actions that helped someone in need during a drowning emergency in November 2013. Red Wing High School star athlete Sydney Book received the Youth Good Samaritan Award for helping at an accident scene.
Robins, Thunderbolts win softball titles
The Robins of Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka had the hot bats at the Minnesota State High School League’s PI Division state softball tournament championship game this spring. The Robins beat Dakota United, 8-3. The win is the Robins’ seventh softball title in eight years. It also capped a 14-0 season, in which they defeated several teams by wide margins.
The Robins defeated South Suburban 9-0 and Rochester 9-2 to get to the title game. Dakota United, which represents schools in Dakota County, topped Minneapolis South 14-4 and Anoka-Hennepin 11-10 to reach the title game. The Anoka-Hennepin game went into extra innings.
Rochester won third place over Anoka-Hennepin, 7-5. Wayzata-Minnetonka won the consolation title with a 14-9 win over South. St. Paul Humboldt was the eighth team in the tournament.
South Washington County captured its first CI Division since 2006, topping Dakota United 12-2 in five innings. The Thunderbolts defeated Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee 11-2 and North Suburban 12-2 to get to the title game. Dakota United defeated Anoka-Hennepin 17-9 and Osseo 19-6 to reach the title game.
Osseo won the third place crown, 19-14, over North Suburban. Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee won the consolation title with an 11-4 win over Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville. Minneapolis Roosevelt was the eighth team in the tournament.