Selfless Service

The 2018 WLKY-TV Spirit of Louisville Bell Awards

By Laura Ross

Photos courtesy of WLKY Bell Awards

“Many award winners take from their own pain and challenges to help minimize the hurt of others.”
— Debbie Roberson

They’re often quiet, dedicated servants. They lend a hand, give a boost and make a difference for those in need. They embody the phrase “time, treasure and talent.” They move mountains.

These unsung heroes give of themselves daily to help others, and now, their moment to shine in a bit of the spotlight has arrived. They are the 12 men and women of the 2018 WLKY Bell Awards.

“It’s amazing how people can take a passion, skill or hobby and share it unselfishly with others, and it is life changing for those on the receiving end,” said Debbie Roberson, WLKY Bell Awards program director. “Many award winners take from their own pain and challenges to help minimize the hurt of others. From the smallest acts of kindness to a grandiose endeavor, there’s nothing that can replace acts of love for your fellow man.”

A community staple for 41 years, the WLKY Spirit of Louisville Foundation promotes community service and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the true “spirit of Louisville” through selfless volunteer efforts. When the program began in 1978, a bell was chosen as the symbol of the foundation – representing freedom, celebration, peace, recognition and answering the call to service.

One of this year’s honorees is a very familiar face. Since retiring from the University of Louisville, Coach Denny Crum has spent decades off the court raising awareness and donations for dozens of area charities.

“When I came to Louisville, this quickly became my home,” said Crum. 

“Being part of this community, not just as the UofL basketball coach, was important to me, plus, ‘giving back’ was instilled in me by Coach Wooden.”
— Denny Crum

“Being part of this community, not just as the UofL basketball coach, was important to me. Plus, giving back was instilled in me by Coach Wooden. I had been involved with many nonprofits nearly as long as I had been here, and I wasn’t going to stop just because I retired from coaching. Plus, we established the Denny Crum Scholarship Foundation (now the Denny Crum Scholarship Fund, at UofL) and that was also very important to me.”

More than 400 individuals have received WLKY Bell Awards. In 1994, the program was expanded to include the Youth Service Honor, which acknowledges high school students who show the same passion for service as the adult Bell Award recipients. This year, Andrew Dunn, a sophomore at duPont Manual High School, and Jack Schrepferman, a freshman at DePauw University, will receive the honor.

Jack Schrepferman co-founded S.C.O.R.E. (Soccer Connections OutReach and Enrichment) with the mission to connect refugee children from Catholic Charities’ English as a Second Language School through soccer. Along with fellow St. Xavier teammate Andrew Klem, they organized weekly clinics to bring together youth, ages 4 to 18, from 30 different countries.

“Whether it’s your time or your resources, some of that should be given to help others.”
— Jack Schrepferman

They also collected school supplies and athletic equipment to help the students better transition to their new surroundings. Now that he is away at college, his brother, Tommy Schrepferman, a St. Xavier freshman, will continue the work of S.C.O.R.E.

“The children we have helped taught me so many things,” said Jack Schrepferman. “There were always kids who were a little shy or nervous and didn’t interact very much with the other children, but when we began playing soccer with them, they immediately were involved and interacting with others. Whether it’s your time or your resources, some of that should be given to help others.”

Andrew Dunn founded RAK Louisville, which encourages random acts of kindness and service. RAK, which began as an advent calendar project when he was 10 years old, has grown exponentially, with Mayor Fischer proclaiming Dec. 23 as Random Acts of Kindness Louisville Day.

In 2017, Dunn received a Nickelodeon HALO Award and is using the $20,000 grant money for several grassroots projects, including a free-standing neighborhood pantry at Byck Elementary. In addition to organizing service opportunities for others, Dunn speaks at schools, tutors and has partnered with Forgotten Louisville to help serve the homeless community.

“Now more than ever, we need to share goodness and humanitarianism,” said Roberson. “This year’s recipients range from age 16 to 83, each with their unique and impressive accomplishments. Their stories never grow old, and WLKY is so proud to be an active force in helping make our community better.”

Andrew Dunn.

“Any community can be ‘nice,’ but a ‘great’ community has involvement from its residents,” said Crum. “That’s how you connect, that’s how you learn what’s important. Even a few hours a day whether it’s cleaning a street (or) tutoring a child, every little bit we give back is so important. It’s what brings us together. But mostly, my wife and I just like to give back. We are so blessed, how can we not?”

In addition to the 12 WLKY Bell Award honorees this year, the foundation and Fischer will present the Mayor’s Spirit of Louisville award to Ben Langley with the Build-a-Bed project, which provides beds to youths in need.

“All the Bell Award winners have the mindset to do good for others,” said Roberson. “It’s in their DNA. There’s nothing fabricated in their compassion.” VT


A quick look at the 2018 WLKY Bell Award recipients:

 

Linda Berry

In 1999, Linda Berry helped Cindy Norton co-found Friends for Michael with her son, who suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of 18. Since then, they’ve raised more than $600,000 to support research at UofL and UK’s Spinal Cord Injury Research Centers. They’ve also assisted with home renovations, equipment purchases and other specialized needs for individuals living with a spinal cord injury.

Pastor Rob Beckett

In 2016, Pastor Rob Beckett established the first Shepherd’s Pantry at his church, Shepherdsville First Church of the Nazarene. Today, there are 30 pantries located throughout Bullitt County, which aid area residents dealing with food insecurity.

Sister Regina Bevelacqua

Sr. Regina Bevelacqua is co-founder of St. Mary’s Center, which serves intellectually challenged individuals. At 83, she has been a Special Olympics coach for more than 50 years in the areas of track and field, basketball, softball and bowling, and she played a role in the development of the first Special Olympic games held in Chicago in 1968.

Deanna “De De” Cox

Deanna Cox is a driving force behind charitable activities for the Dream Factory of Louisville, IBR Foundation, Opal’s Dream Foundation, Ardi’s Bears, Spalding University and more. She’s also active in mentoring for Kentucky and Indiana festival pageants.

Denny Crum

Legendary Coach Denny Crum has devoted more than 40 years of service to organizations such as Cystic Fibrosis, Mattingly Edge, Meghan’s Mountain, Friends for Michael, Camp Quality, Norton’s Children’s Hospital and more. In 2001, he established a student scholarship program at the University of Louisville and personally selects 100 students to receive a $1,000 scholarship annually. To date, his namesake foundation has raised more than $1.5 million dollars.

Kathlene Denhard

Kathlene Denhard founded “Kans for Kids” when she was 19 years old and attending college at the University of Indianapolis. While working part-time in the school system, she saw the effect of kids who did not have proper nutrition. She brought “Kans for Kids” to Louisville after graduation and continues efforts to end childhood hunger.

Quinton Higgins

Quinton Higgins is a survivor of the May 14, 1988, Carroll County bus crash, the worst drunk driving accident in U.S. history. Despite his injuries and trauma, he shares his story through various state programs and awareness campaigns and assists with training for police, prosecutors, school bus drivers and victim service providers. In 2013, he purchased an exact replica of the bus he was traveling on that fateful night and uses it as an impactful tool for his community work.

Margaret “Meg” Peavy

Meg Peavy provides free tennis instruction for individuals with special needs in cooperation with Frazier Rehab Center, Downs Syndrome of Louisville and Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT). Twenty-five years ago, she helped organize Rising Stars, a nationally-recognized nonprofit junior tennis association that serves at-risk youth.

LeighAnn Saylor

LeighAnn Saylor is an advocate for individuals and families who are dealing with kidney failure and awaiting a transplant. Using the power of social media, LeighAnn’s organization, Mulligans Living Kidney Donors, has been successful with helping facilitate 28 kidney transplants.

Suzanne Shepherd

Suzanne Shepherd started the Buechel Park Baptist Church Garden Ministry in 2012, providing fresh produce for distribution through agencies and churches that give food assistance. More than 17,000 pounds of food was harvested and donated this past year alone.


The 2018 WLKY Bell Awards, presented by the Republic Bank Foundation, will be held at the Omni Commonwealth Ballroom at 6 p.m. on Oct. 4. A special one-hour telecast of The WLKY Bell Awards will air on WLKY from 8 to 9 p.m. on
Oct. 20.