KITCHENER — Now in its 39th year, K-W Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year is once again celebrating the remarkable women in our community.
The gala event on Thursday night featured a keynote address by retired director of education, Linda Fabi, followed by awards handed to eight women and one charitable organization.
Betty Lou Borho, president of May Court Club, accepted the award on behalf of her club which won in the inaugural group achievement category. This award was designed to recognize a group of women.
The community service award went to music teacher Nancy Tilt of Kitchener, who was recognized for 36 years as special education teacher and former director of the special education choir which brought together more than 100 singers from across the region. Tilt has been a longtime volunteer with her church as director of music, leader in an aid group and board member.
Jamie Burton of Kitchener was recognized in the entrepreneur category. As co-owner and vice-president of Dolphin Digital Technologies, Burton focuses her business on creating social change and enabling barrier-free employment for people with disabilities. She is considered a community builder and active volunteer.
Violinist Christine Vlajk of Waterloo won in the arts and culture category for her promotion of music in the community, in Canada and around the world. Vlajk plays with the highly respected Penderecki String Quartet and is artist-in-residence at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is also considered one of the country’s pre-eminent string teachers.
Tracey Collins of Waterloo was recognized for her work under the health and wellness category. Collins left a hospital job to serve the homeless population at the Working Centre’s psychiatric outreach project, pioneering a nursing role in non-traditional settings such as community kitchens, the streets, shelters, courts, parks and drop-in centres.
Sandra Henderson of Waterloo, past president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was recognized with a lifetime achievement award for her work making a difference in the fight against drinking and driving. Henderson lost her daughter, Nancy, in an alcohol-related crash.
Sara Casselman of Kitchener was recognized in the professional category as manager of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region. In 2011 the activist was honoured as a leading woman in building communities by the provincial minister responsible for women’s issues.
Mikaela Gerber of Cambridge won the sports and recreation award for her work as a member of Canada’s national gymnastics team. Gerber is on a full gymnastics scholarship at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the 2011 Canada Winter Games, she tied for the most medals won, at five in total.
Stephanie Prysnuk of Kitchener won the young adult (age 14-25) category for her work in the community as a volunteer, role model and mentor for other young people with disabilities. Prysnuk has developmental delays as well as intellectual and physical challenges but is a very busy volunteer, photographer, athlete, singer and mother’s helper.