March 22, 2011
LIMA — Sherry Fetzer has worked the past eight years to make sure everybody has the opportunity to feel special. Tuesday night, it was her turn.Ironically, Fetzer spent her big night as the region's latest Jefferson Award winner about as far away from Lima as she could get.“Actually, she's on a beach in Aruba, where, of course, it's 80 or 90 degrees,” said her daughter Kristi Fetzer while accepting the award for her mother. “I told her I'd be willing to trade her places. She didn't take me up on it.Fetzer was chosen from among eight nominees as winner of this year's Jefferson Award for Public Service. She was chosen for her work as founder and leader of Up To The Challenge, a program that provides sporting activities for people of all ages who are physically, mentally or medically challenged. Today, between 60 and 100 people participate in the annual softball game, along with swimming, bowling and a dance.Her nominator, Rick Miller, said Fetzer's effort to grow the program from nothing has been an inspiration to the entire Delphos community.“Her contribution to the community with Up To The Challenge is outstanding, innovative and impressive. Her volunteerism and all the volunteers who make up Up To The Challenge are leaving a profound influence on the community,” said Miller, a former Jefferson nominee in his own right.In her absence, Fetzer's daughter read a speech written before the Delphos business owner took off for the islands. In it, she quoted from a song written for Up To The Challenge.“What would you do to create the good? Let us come together and do what we should,” Fetzer wrote.Fetzer's win will mean $1,050 in award money for Up To The Challenge, and that is just for starters. The top nominees, selected by local judges, received $350 each and had their nominations forwarded to the national Jefferson Award committee, who selected Fetzer for the honor and an additional $700 award to her charity. Fetzer will go on to represent the area in June at the national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.The other 2011 Jefferson Award nominees were Dr. Shama Amin, of Lima; Quan Cory, of Cridersville; Keiko Hahn, of Lima; Jerome O'Neal, of Lima; David Smith, of Lima; Donald Smith, of Continental; and Ray Ward and Paula Thompson, of Lima.