The Colorado Chapter has a long tradition of presenting the annual Families First Award to the parent or professional who goes above and beyond in their efforts to improve systems or services for families raising children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
We had hoped to honor Cathy Bowles, a Poudre Valley Schools teacher of the deaf at the center-based program at McGraw Elementary in person at our 25th anniversary Gala. Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 concerns suggested staying “virtual”. Register for the auction Oct 6-Oct 9 (to get the Zoom link, register at https://secure.qgiv.com/event/cohvauction/) and see Cathy receive her award and learn more about her work. We hope to give her some stage time in 2022!
2020 Award: Recognizing Excellence: Megan Nix
During COVID-19, we held a virtual Gala and online auction, and for the first time, aired an interview with our Families First Award honoree, Megan Nix (Nix is her maiden name and the one she uses for writing; her married name is Megan Wiedel) during the event. Nix is a parent of four children, and her daughter born with congenital cytomegalovirus prompted her to learn everything she could about the virus. Now an advocate for not just awareness but timely treatment and early intervention as well as prevention, she is writing a book on the topic and works in Colorado and nationally/internationally to reach professionals and parents on this topic. Why don’t women in pregnancy learn about this virus and get the chance to protect their unborn babies from this illness commonly found in toddlers and preschoolers? Thank you, Megan, for your passion and drive to see CMV become a household word, and working with CO H&V on the Congenital CMV Family Network and prevention efforts statewide.
2019 Award: Nan Thompson, Therapist and Mentor: Nanette Thompson, MS, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT is a speech-language pathologist specializing in working with children who are learning to use their amplification devices to develop listening and spoken language. Nan has served as a consultant to early intervention programs, cochlear implant consortiums and other programs. Through her own practice and the Listening Foundation Listen and Chat series, or state, national or international presentations, she has created and shared groundbreaking materials that make therapy not only meaningful, but targets the skills kids and families really need. She focuses on the whole child, from predicting and story re-tell to self-advocacy and short-term memory, rhythm, and pragmatics. Nan is always generous with sharing the wisdom she has gleaned over a career in working with children of all ages. Plus, she never forgets the fun. Nan has built a busy practice at multiple sites, while still finding time to teach other clinicians, and host learning sessions for parents. She attended “speech therapy” herself as a child, and knew early on that she wanted to help kids with their spoken language and listening skills.
2018 Awards: Representative Millie Hamner, Senator Dominick Moreno, Representative Larry Liston, Senator Bob Gardner were recognized as the primary sponsors of the Modernizing Colorado Newborn Screening bill, HB 18-1006, which put into place the replacement of the statewide database, staff to oversee the EHDI program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the funding to support these important efforts. Representative Hamner was on hand personally to receive the award and to inspire us with a vision of what state government can do when stakeholders take their place as advocates.
2017 Award Winner: Dianne Goberis, Beloved Teacher
The 2017 Benefit attendees honored Dianne Goberis, teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, who has had a long an celebrated career in early childhood education. Dianne was the beloved preschool teacher at Mountain View Elementary in Adams 12 School District for 30 years, and served the Marion Downs Hearing Center as Director of Language/Literacy and Youth Programs. As such, she led the summer preschool intensive at Marion’s Way each summer among her other projects.
Dianne was instrumental in the success of the well-known preschool program at Mountain View, the longstanding Deaf and Hard of Hearing Track and Field Day for Metro Denver, involved in research on pragmatic language, published in the field, and was a frequent presenter and supporter of deaf/hard of hearing education statewide. She was often called upon to welcome out of state and foreign visitors to Mountain View, to mentor, to teach, and she was an inspiration to many of “her kids” to enter the field.
Liesel Thomas, our Assistant Director and Guide By Your Side Coordinator along with her daughter, Sophie Thomas, one of Dianne’s former preschoolers, took the stage to share about Dianne’s many accomplishments and not least of all, her vision for doing what works for each child. We heard from many past students who shared pictures from past events along with their congratulations to “Goberis” as she is called by those closest to her. Dianne’s family were in attendance and many parents and professionals came to honor her in particular.
Please join us in remembering Dianne who passed away on January 16, 2019. We thank her family for sharing her with us and remember her for her many contributions to excellence in early childhood education, deaf education as a whole, and her support of families. She somehow never missed one of her kids’ games, either! Dianne, from our board of directors, staff, volunteers and most importantly, from and on behalf of the families we serve, we thank you and are glad that you chose deaf education as your lifelong passion. We treasure your smarts, your generous sharing of resources and expertise, and your sense of humor.
Nominations for the Families First Award
Help us recognize the professionals and parents who pioneer on behalf of all our children. In every field, there are those who forge ahead with a tireless spirit to “make things happen” for our deaf and hard of hearing kids: they may be parents, professionals, or politicians, or policy-makers.
Send in your nomination letter to recognize those who go the extra mile, who challenge the status quo, and who immeasurably enrich the lives of our children. Details about their service and impact are most welcome! Nominations will be accepted annually until July 19 each year. For the Oct 9, 2021 Gala, please send nomination letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous honorees of the Families First award include Megan Nix, Nan Thompson, Millie Hamner, Dominick Moreno, Larry Liston, and Bob Gardner (2018), Dianne Goberis, Janet DesGeorges, Leeanne Seaver, and Cheryl Johnson (COHV and HQ founders), Annette Landes, Susie Broderick, Vickie Thomson, Cliff Moers, Shana Bokelman, Representative Mark Larson, Rob Frantum-Allen, Allison Sedey, Barbara Jean Wood, Stephanie Olson, Dinah Beams, Allison Biever, Donna Ewing, BJ Brubaker-Blocker, Denise Davis-Pedrie, Ruth Mathers, Cathy Noble Hornsby, Brian W. Smith, Cheryl DeConde Johnson, and Christine Yoshinaga-Itano.