Mayor’s Council Recognizes Those who Improve Quality of Life for Persons with Disabilities


Valdosta MCPD Award Recipients (from left): VFD Fire Chief Freddie Broome, VFD Firefighter Darren Williams, Mayor John Gayle, Public Works Director Richard Hardy, Public Works Superintendent DeMarcus Marshall and Public Works Coordinator Tonja Shackelford.

Business of the Year (from left): The Beanery Coffee Roasters employees Ryan Steis and Andrew Gunn, MCPD Chair Wendy Thomas, and Mayor John Gayle.

Outstanding Service Award (from left): Mayor John Gayle, MCPD Treasurer Dr. Kimberly Ann Tanner and MCPD Chair Wendy.

On Oct. 11, the Mayor’s Council for Persons with Disabilities 21st Annual Awards and Recognition Banquet, co-sponsored by Valdosta State University, was held to celebrate exceptional people, organizations and businesses who are committed to tearing down barriers and improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities in our community.

Keynote speaker U.S. Air Force Captain Christy Wise—a Rescue Squadron pilot stationed at Moody Air Force Base who became the sixth amputee and the first-female amputee to return to the cockpit—was called out to serve Hurricane Matthew relief efforts and made her presentation at the event by video. Wise inspirationally described her challenges as those she did not seek out, yet is learning to overcome, to fulfill her purpose in life. By creating the One Leg Up On Life foundation (, Wise and her supporters provide prosthetic limbs to children who cannot afford the limbs they desperately need.

Following Wise’s inspiring message, several others in the community were also recognized:

EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR –Valdosta Firefighter Darren Williams

SERVICE OF THE YEAR—Valdosta Public Works Department

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR—The Beanery Coffee Roasters


ESSAY CONTEST WINNER—Dagen Anderson, Lowndes High School

“I’m grateful to have a Mayor’s Council for Persons with Disabilities, served by members who diligently work to address the real quality of life issues faced daily by those in our community with disabilities,” said Mayor John Gayle. “We serve all residents of this great community, and each—whether abled or differently-abled—should feel that he or she is a valued member of our society. We can, and we will, continue to strive to improve the quality of life for all residents.”

The MCPD will also host the Community Resource Fair for Persons with Disabilities on Saturday, Oct. 15. The event will take place at Mathis City Auditorium, located at 2300 N. Ashley Street, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  More than 20 local organization who serve people with various disabilities in areas such as employment, housing, equipment, education, counseling, community and family support, legal service and advocacy will be present at the event. The resource fair will provide information and assistance to residents who are disabled, as well as garner support from people and organizations who are not.

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Posted by Thursday, October 13, 2016 2:56:00 PM Categories: Administration Fire Press Release Public Information Public Works