When I took over as president (Nic O’Neill here…) I felt it was critical when it comes to these next awards to recognize those people that the membership felt best deserved the award. The recipients were selected because they had the most write in votes, and met the criteria for the award.
This is for someone that in the past year has been an outstanding volunteer in the kite community. This year I would like to award this distinction to the Nguyen Family of Portland Oregon. Those in the Pacific Northwest know this family well, and know the work they do on and off the field. Father Kahn, Mother PV, and the two sons Dylan and Cardin are not only making a name for themselves as up and coming kite fliers, they are also volunteering and giving back to the kite community. The whole family embodies what it means to be a volunteer. Whether it is helping take care of other kite fliers on the field, or helping out with festival set up and tear down, kids kite building, engagement with the public, and more. They do all of this because they feel a sense of responsibility to the community for being so warm and inviting, and they do this without being asked to. If they are the first face that those outside of our kite community see, then we are in good hands.
Over the past year we have had some stellar work from two Regional Directors this year. This was a close decision, and ultimately came down to several deep heartfelt emails from members in one region that makes me happy to report… that for the third year in a row, Brett Morris is the regional director of the year. Throughout the year on a routine basis, I am receiving emails from members in his region and neighboring regions letting me know how thankful they are for an interaction they have had with him. I do have to mention that there was a very close runner up to this award, and that is for the venerable Linda Sanders of Region 13. She has served for 12 years as a regional director. Both of them have done a fantastic job at being regional directors, at keeping their members well informed and well engaged, and with interacting not only in person, but online.
This years Kite Club of the year goes to Kites over New England. They are a highly engaged group of kite fliers and enthusiasts. Whether it is sharing regular updates or through their newsletters and outreach, the members of KONE are well connected and well versed in the goings on in the kite community. Getting together on a semi routing basis, they are also staying an opening and inviting group that is showing how we can build our community from a grassroots approach.
Shining Star Award
This next award is a new award that was created this year. It is the Shining Star Award, and it is intended to recognize the person, or group, that is making waves online for the kite community. This award can be awarded to any member, or non member, and is meant as a way of saying Thank you for doing so much work online to help bring attention to our community. This year, when a call was put out asking for nominations, this is the one that had the most responses. 67 people wrote in to nominate a person or website for being such a strong influence online. They are the tip of the spear for most people outside of the community that are seeking more information, and as an organization we feel it is important to recognize those that are doing an exceptional job at spreading the love and joy of kiteflying through their actions. That speaks directly to the mission statement of the AKA.
It will come as no surprise that the first recipient of this award goes to John Baressi and his work with Kitelife, Kiteforge, iQuad, and his various personal brands. John has been on the forefront of putting kites online for some time now, and as his brands continue to develop and evolve, it is wonderful to see how new groups of people are being reached in ways that most of us could only dream about. John continue to push the envelope, and continues to bring attention to our passion. Thank You.