NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (March 29, 2023) – A pair of siblings and a member of the Tuscarawas County Rockets leadership council are among this year’s Better Together Award winners.
TuscBDD announced the recipients during a pancake breakfast at Tuscora Park Tuesday morning. Jacob and Joshua Bennett and Jacob Bennett took home the Standing Ovation Award for the unconditional love and support they’ve shown to their younger brother Jared. Their mother nominated them for the honor.
“Jacob and Joshua deserve this award because no matter how scary the situation was or how it disrupted their own lives, they’ve always been there to support their little brother and his friends. They continue to be great examples of how everybody should just be kind and inclusive to all, with or without a disability.”
Each year, the board presents its Diamond Award to someone with a disability who advocates for themselves and their peers to achieve their dreams. It went to Alex Atkins of New Philadelphia, who was nominated by local Special Olympics officials and is known for going out of his way to mentor his Rockets teammates.
“He has dreamed big for himself and others with disabilities and has challenged others to do the same,” said Coordinator Richelle Leffler. “Alex has become a leader as he works toward becoming a coach someday. He has mentored younger athletes, and he’s done what so many of them have needed: he has simply listened.”
Paraprofessional Lori Kutcher took home the flagship Better Together Award for her commitment to the students she works with at New Philadelphia’s West Elementary, and the city fire department received the Ripple Effect Award for its partnership with Advocates for Success. Program leaders say Chief Jim Parrish and his crew go out of their way to make sure the two participants who work at the station as part-time janitors feel welcome and appreciated.