Columbus woman among Make-A-Wish® Georgia 2012 Award recipients

(WTVM) - Make-A-Wish Georgia announced Friday the recipients of its Annual Awards, which were distributed at the 8th Annual Celebration of Wishes Gala on October 20, 2012.

The awards were given to individuals and/or companies who exemplify commitment to the mission of Make-A-Wish, which is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

"Every year we honor a select group of individuals who go above and beyond to create wish experiences that make life better for wish kids, families and communities," says Make-A-Wish Georgia's CEO, John J. Brennan.  "We are incredibly excited to honor these outstanding leaders and want to shine a spotlight on them to recognize their incredible commitment to our wish kids.  The extraordinary dedication of these award winners can inspire others to step up and join them in making a life-changing difference for children and families through the power of a wish."

The Hope, Strength and Joy Award is presented to an outstanding volunteer who has helped to deliver hope through granting wishes, strength through their fundraising initiatives, and joy through their commitment to the mission of the organization.  This year, Jennifer Simpson of Columbus, Georgia, is the recipient of the award.  Jennifer has helped to grant 42 wishes since she began volunteering with Make-A-Wish in 2007.  She serves with the Columbus Advisory Committee and as a media representative and volunteer trainer for Make-A-Wish in Southeast Georgia.

The Power of a Wish Award is presented to an individual or group that has exhibited outstanding leadership over an extended period of time to help Make-A-Wish Georgia expand its ability to deliver its mission of granting wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.  This year, Phil Martens, CEO of Novelis, Inc., and the Novelis Team are the recipients of this award.  Atlanta-based Novelis is a world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling.  In 2010, they initiated their partnership with Make-A-Wish Georgia, with a corporate contribution of $250,000.  Their commitment continued throughout 2011 and 2012, and grew as they committed to sponsoring all of Make-A-Wish Georgia's flagship events and continue to promote opportunities for their employees to engage in volunteer service.

The Debbie Tillman Award was created in honor of Debbie Tillman, an incredible leader, who, through tireless efforts, helped to launch Make-A-Wish Georgia in 1995 and served as the organization's first Board Chairperson. This award is presented to an outstanding member of the Board of Directors, as voted on by the staff of Make-A-Wish.  George Georgiou, outgoing Board Chairman, is the recipient of the award this year.   George recently completed his sixth year of service with Make-A-Wish, during which time he has served as Chairman of the Celebration of Wishes Gala, Chairman of the Celebration of Wishes Golf Tournament, and has been instrumental in securing significant financial sponsorships for the organization.

The William Blake Kuller "Indomitable Spirit" Award was established in honor of Wish Child, Blake Kuller. This award is intended to honor a wish child or wish parent who embodies the essence of an "indomitable" spirit and possesses the qualities of persistence, bravery, compassion, integrity, dedication and humor, as Blake did.  Laura Stewart of Woodstock, Georgia, is the recipient of this award.  Laura's wish for a "room makeover" by Pottery Barn was granted in 2008.  While attending high school, Laura served as an intern at the Make-A-Wish offices, helping to share with her school community the impact of a wish.  She went on to study at Kennesaw State University, where she started a Relay for Life Club on campus to help educate her classmates in health issues and raise funds for other children battling cancer.

About Make-A-Wish

Make-A-Wish Georgia is the local chapter of the national Make-A-Wish network.  They grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.  According to a 2011 study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed say that a wish come true can affect a child's health outcomes. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illness, and their parents say these experiences strengthen the entire family.  They have granted over 5,000 wishes locally, and seek to grant 400 wishes this year.  To learn more about Make-A-Wish, visit their webiste and discover how you can share The Power of a Wish®.

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