The 2013 edition of the Golden George Awards were announced earlier today. This is our 4th year of doing this. I think this year’s edition in the Citizen/Individual division is the strongest we’ve had yet. The Celebrity division was strong this year with musical talent and artists. The Business/Organization/Charity/Community division was good this year as well.
To explain again, the Golden George Awards are inspired by the character George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life. I look for good stories year around of people doing great things in their community – basically people living the Christmas spirit year around, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christmas story. People who make the list are rugged individuals, exceptional, do kind acts, are charitable, enterprising, great volunteers, heroes, inspirational, creative, and just good friends and neighbors. They can be regular people, businesses, charities, communities, or celebrities. We break them down into three categories. Also each year we do the Potter Awards for everyone who is opposite of our Golden George Award winners. Here’s the list!
1. Madison Root, Oregon – Citizen
Madison Root needed braces. So Madison set out to do what she thought was the responsible thing to do – earn the money herself for her braces. Her family owns a farm and one of their products is mistletoe. Madison went into business on the street of her town, only to be told that she couldn’t sell her product, but could beg for the money instead. Her story went viral, and thankfully she now has a thriving mail order business for her mistletoe. Last check, Madison now employed 30 some employees.
2. Chris Cox, South Carolina – Citizen
The man who became a national sensation when he started mowing and taking care of the trash in Washington, D.C. at national monuments during the government shut down this past fall.
3. Tuffy Gessling, Missouri – Citizen Tuffy made the news this year and really never intended to. He was just performing what has been done for years and years in his profession – as a rodeo clown making fun of politicians. Tuffy was the rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair who got a lifetime ban for his act involving the wearing of an Obama mask which upset a few people who need to know how to lighten up and get a life.
4. Jack MacDonald, Washington – Citizen
Jack passed away in September at the age of 98. To the surprise of his family and friends, MacDonald had amassed a fortune of $187.6 million to be exact and left it to various charities in the state of Washington. He kept his secret fortune hidden by doing simple things like riding the bus and clipping coupons.
5. Doug Holladay, Utah – Citizen
Doug was dying of terminal cancer. He had one last wish and it came true. Doug’s wish was to help others. He was able to go ring the bell and attend to a Salvation Army Red Kettle one last time. Despite needing to sit in a wheel chair and use an oxygen tank Doug was able to work the kettle at a local Wal-Mart in Riverdale, Utah. Doug has been working for the Salvation Army for 15 years during their Christmas Red Kettle campaigns. He just wanted to give back one last time. Let’s hope that Doug has a Merry Christmas, as this one is expected to be his last.
6. Jack Hoffman – Citizen
Jack Hoffman is a 7 year old boy who became a national sensation last spring. Jack is fighting cancer. Growing up in Nebraska he’s naturally a Cornhusker football fan. When he was 5 he saw his first Husker game and given a Rex Burkhead number 22 jersey, which led to a relationship with Rex and the team. This year at the annual Spring Game Jack was put into the game where he ran for a touchdown. The touchdown made the ESPY Awards this year, and Jack gets a Golden George Award as well!
7. Dalton Dingus, Kentucky – Citizen
Last year Dalton went for a world record to receive the most Christmas cards. He took in over 500,000 cards! Dalton lost his life after battling cystic fibrosis in January. Last year Dalton made our list for his Christmas card record. This year we recognize him once again. We know Dalton today is celebrating Christmas with our Father in Heaven.
8. Zach Sobeich, Minnesota – Citizen
Zach lost his life earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. Before he died he recorded an amazing song called Clouds. The song was used to remember him at a performance at the Mall of America earlier this month when 5,000 people turned out to perform “Clouds” as a choir.
9. William Riley Knight, Indiana – Citizen
William Knight lost his life in a tragic accident this month. He had been married only 7 hours. William and his wife Nikki stopped to assist a stranded motorist when he was struck by several vehicles. The couple was on their way home from their reception when they stopped to help woman who was stuck in the snow. While standing by the car, another vehicle stuck William and the stranded motorist, and then two more vehicles struck him. Knight served as an Army Ranger and served in Operation Desert Storm.
10. Larissa – Citizen
Larissa and Ian met in college in 2005. A tragic accident left Ian without the ability to care for himself and speak. Larissa had a choice to make. She married Ian, the man that she loved. Check out the video.
11. Davion Navar Henry, St Petersburg, FL – Citizen
Fifteen year old Davion humbled himself by going before St. Mark Church in St. Petersburg, Florida this past September. Davion has spent his life in foster care. Davion had a plea for the congregation to find someone to adopt him. We give this brave kid a Golden George Award.
12. Angela Prattis, Chester Township, PA – Citizens
Angela does a lot of good for her community. Every day she distributes meals to the hungry in Chester Township. But due to an ordinance she is being fined $600/day that she distributes food. However, Angela is not stopping.
13. Florida Girl – Citizen
A young Florida girl didn’t want her deaf parents to miss out on her school’s holiday concert. The Kindergartener signed the entire show for her parents while the class was on stage singing.
14. Salvation Army Donor – Citizen
Every year we put stories of anonymous donors on our list. This year another one makes it into the Golden George Awards. This time for dropping a one once gold bar into a Salvation Army Red Kettle.
15. Layaway Santas – Citizens
Every year we have stories about Layaway Santas, individuals who go into stores and pay the tabs for everyone who has something on layaway before Christmas. We have several more instances of that this year. Just go a Google search and you’ll find all kinds of them. Here’s a couple.
16. Nick Vujcic – Citizen
Nick is an Australian born Christian evangelist, who has no limbs. But Nick has not let that stop him in life. He does anything that he wants, or figures out a way to do it. While it may take some time to figure out, he usually finds a way. Nick’s non-profit called Life Without Limbs provides Christian encouragement to those struggling with various issue. We place him on the list as an individual for recognizing the odds that he has overcame and his shining example to all.
17. Ori Feibush, Philadelphia, PA – Citizen
Ori spent $20,000 of his own money to remove 40 tons of debris from lots in the city. Ori was fed up after opening his own coffee shop that the city was not cleaning up the lot next door. So he took it upon himself to do the work. However, the city then threatened legal action, among other things declaring the area a safety hazard and citing that it was unfair to tax payers.
18. Temar Boggs, Lancaster, PA – Citizen
Temar is a 15 year old hero. Back in July Temar was on his way to hang out with some friends when he heard a 5 year old girl being abducted in their neighborhood. He didn’t sit around, he jumped into action and chased down the abductor.
19. Max Siepert, Greenfield, WI – Citizens
Eleven year old max donated money to his local police station. He walked into the station and gave $10.03 to the front desk officer and then walked away. The police used surveillance cameras to track him down and thank him. The reason for the donation – he felt inspired after learning about heroic efforts of officers from 9/11 attacks in New York City.
20. William Paterson University Football Players, Wayne, New Jersey – Citizens
Four players walked into a local store when the door was left unlocked but the store was supposed to be closed. The four players went around the store in search of batteries and sun glasses. They made their selections, walked up to the counter, put down money, waved at the camera and then left the store.
21. Dr. Roger Curry, Omaha, Nebraska – Citizens
Dr. Curry is my dentist, and a good one. Over the summer he was recognized by the Omaha World Herald for his years of charity work. He is a devoted Christian and does much work in rehab centers.
22. Michael Goodman and Claude Soffel – Citizens
Michael Goodman was surfing Facebook when he ran into a name from his past. Claude Soffel was a victim of Michael’s 35 years ago. Michael mugged Claude. Michael sent a note to Claude apologizing for the crime. Best part about it all was Claude’s forgiving attitude.
23. Santa Brothers – Citizens
Two brothers have been getting their picture taken together with Santa Claus for 34 straight years. They just kept on doing it, even as they got older. And now they even bring their own kids for their annual picture.
1. Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs/Mike Rowe Works – Celebrities
TV host Mike Rowe is on a mission. A mission to bring dignity back to the American workplace. His new organization called MikeRoweWorks Foundation is challenging the absurd belief that a four year college degree is the only pathway to success.
2. Duck Dynasty Cast – Celebrities
Outside of the controversy with the A&E Network and Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, the cast of the show belongs on the list to begin with. A good wholesome program with a God-fearing family is refreshing to see in mainstream America. Whether you agree or disagree with Phil’s comments I believe anyone with a brain can see the whole media storm was an overreaction, perhaps on both sides. Thankfully the Duck Dynasty program will still be on television in 2014.
3. Bono – Celebrities
Bono gave an impromptu street concert in Dublin, Ireland on Christmas Eve that was fun to watch! I’m sure it was amazing to see in person. Aside from this great Christmas performance, which by the way was for charity, Bono contributes to many different causes.
4. Beyonce – Celebrities This might be the Year of Music for the Golden George Awards. Following Bono we have Beyonce, and further down the list some more artists and an album. In the case of Beyonce she gave a dying little girl her wish, which came with an amazing heartfelt reaction.
5. Paul Walker – Celebrities
Actor Paul Walker passed away a month ago in a tragic accident. By all accounts Walker was one of the best men in Hollywood. One of the stories that I found amazing is a true story of him going into a jewelry store and paid for a $10,000 ring for an Iraq War Veteran who was there with his fiancee picking out a wedding ring.
6. Ashton Kutcher – Celebrities
Ashton Kutcher gave one of the most inspiring speeches of the year at the Teen Choice Awards. While it wasn’t anything groundbreaking, it was unexpected. To see a popular celebrity talk about exceptionalism, hard work, and being a good individual, and speaking to American youth was refreshing to see!
7. Ty Warner, Santa Barbara, CA – Celebrities
Millionaire Ty Warner of Ty Inc, the Beanie Baby company gave away $20,000 to a woman who simply gave him directions. The woman, Jennifer Vasilakos was at a street corner trying to raise money for stem cell procedure needed to save her life due to kidney failure and does not qualify for a transplant.
8. Toby Mac, New York City – Celebrities
Christian rapper Toby Mac surprised a family when their returning husband and father rushed onto stage to greet them.
9. Andrea Bocelli – Celebrities
Famous Christian singer with an amazing voice gave church goers in Miami Bech, Florida an amazing unannounced performance on Christmas Day.
10. “Believe Again” album produced by Glenn Beck featuring composer Clyde Bowen. – Celebrities
This is an amazing Christmas album with an eclectic mix of genres and voices featuring our favorite Christmas classics, and some new material.
11. Bill Cosby – Celebrities
Cosby told John Stewart on the Daily Show to stop cursing back in November.
12. Prince Amukamara, New York Giants – Celebrities
Amukamara told Muscle and Fitness Magazine that not only is he a Christian, he also abstains from sex and alcohol. Great role model.
13. Srinivas Rao – Celebrities
Srinivas Rao has an amazing book called The Art of Being Unmistakeable, which I suggest every young professional and student needs to read before tackling the world. Srinivas also hosts blogcastfm.com which features podcasts and resources from some of the most creative minds in business and entertainment.
14. Jason F Wright – Celebrities
Jason F Wright, author of Christmas Jars has a new book out called Picturing Christmas. He also has a recent post on his web site about a touching story reflecting on the passing of his father many years ago.
15. Megyn Kelly – Celebrities
The Fox News host got into a controversy in early December over a phony argument over some comments she made considering the race of Santa Claus. Once again, another overreaction by the media over complete non-sense.
16. George W. Bush – Celebrities
Former President George W. Bush sent a touching letter to Cade Foster. Foster is the University of Alabama kicker who missed a crucial field goal during the big game against Auburn. The letter told Kade who wears the number 43 “that life has setbacks, but you’ll be stronger in time” and ended with “Sincerely, Another 43”, referencing Bush’s number as America’s 43rd president.
1. San Francisco Bat Kid, Miles and the Make A Wish Foundation – Organization
Miles got a wish come true this past fall when he became the hero of the Bay Area and captured the heart of the nation. Miles got to be “Batkid” for a day running around San Francisco with Batman himself to rescue damsels in distress and fight crime. The event was put on by volunteers, in conjunction with the city and the Make A Wish Foundation.
2. WestJet Airlines – Organization
WestJet Airlines surprised passengers earlier this month with an amazing Christmas stunt. Before boarding their flight in Toronto, the passengers were each asked what they wanted for Christmas. Once in the air the WestJet employees scrambled into four teams making purchases that came out in wrapped packages on the baggage carousel at the the passengers destination. There they were greeted to early Christmas presents.
3. Farm Community near Champagne, Illinois – Community
Kyle Hendrix was only 31 when he lost his battle to cancer. Kyle was a respected young man in the community, and a farmer. After his passing his neighbors pitched in to get his harvest complete, along with the work came a fitting tribute seeing miles of tractors going down the roads to complete the work.
4. Two Million Bikers Ride, the 9/11 Motorcycle Rally in D.C. – Community
Everyone was amazed at the number of motorcyclists that rode to D.C. back in September to commemorate the September 11th Attacks. I put this on the list because it’s one of the greatest showing of American Pride, Patriotism, and Citizenship displayed in a long time.
5. Operation Underground Railroad – Organization
This amazing organization was started to combat global sex trafficking.
6. Liberty Bottleworks, Yakima, WA – Organization
Ryan Clark of Liberty Bottleworks took to Facebook to defend his company after a raving message was left on the company Facebook page scrutinizing the business for having no one to provide service over the weekend. Clark, the co-founder of the company defended the practice citing that his employees also had the right to enjoy the holiday weekends off from work just like the angry customer did.
7. Boston Red Sox Owners – Organization
The Red Sox owners took out a full page ad in the St. Louis papers to thank the the city of St. Louis and the Cardinals fans for an amazing World Series. The ad praised the passionate fans and thanked them for a well played series, the kindness and welcome displayed to the team and opposing fans. This is great sportsmanship.
8. Taylor University, Michigan – Organization
Taylor University makes our list another year for their annual Silent Night Basketball Game. This is an event where the crowd stays quiet until the 10th point of the game is scored, then the crowd goes wild. They rush onto the court and dance and make noise. Then later in the game they sing the Christmas song “Silent Night”.
9. Isabella Weems, Founder of Origami Owl – Organization
Isabella is only 17 years old, but already a millionaire. She started Origami Owl at age 14. This year the company is projected to make $250 million off it’s line of jewelry products. Her business model allows individuals to sell the products themselves. So why did she start it? It’s a great story, Isabella wanted to buy a car when she was 16 years old. The full story involved a little help from her parents, matching a $350 investment, and the business went from there.
10. Pastor Robert Dekker, Delaware – Organization
Pastor Dekker pulled off a July 4th church service on Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. The After the town denied his permit to hold the service on the public beach he went ahead anyway with his plans calling it Freedom Festival. Around 1,500 people showed up to the service including a sermon and music.
11. NaNoWriMo – Organization
National Novel Writing Month takes place every November. I took part in it this year and met the challenge – to write 50,000 words during the month of November. This is an unconventional listing on our Awards, but I place it here because I feel this one of the creative type of things that we need more of in society. Also taking place right before Christmas, it’s a good little year end exercise to take part in.
12. Mercury One – Response to the Tornado Victims in Oklahoma – Organization
Mercury One is my favorite charity as all of the funds raised go straight to victims who benefit from the charity. 100%! This year Mercury One gets placed on our list for their work in Oklahoma after the devastating tornadoes hit.
13. Melbourne, Florida Police Department – Organization
The Melbourne Florida PD spent Christmas giving out tickets. Not for speeding though. The Police Officers were busy stopping drivers and giving them lottery tickets.
Dayna Morales – Dayna Morales is the New York waitress who happens to be a homosexual – whatever, no big deal, but you’ll recall her being the waitress who drew up a phony receipt in order to make her look like a victim and shame a family that had served her. This is one of the worst things someone can do to someone else – frauding someone else for perceived differences and making oneself look like a victim for attention and sympathy. It’s absolutely disgusting.
2. Claremont United Methodist Church, outside Los Angeles, California – Claremont United Methodist Church decided to take a different approach to their nativity scene this year. This year, they made a Nativity Scene featuring Trayvon Martin. Do I really need to get into this? Absurd and asinine.
3. Alexander Torres – Alexander didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas this year. So he acted like any other disgruntle gift receiving would do. He threatened the gift giver with a knife and got arrested. The gift giver was his father, on top of everything. And the gift he wanted for Christmas – an iPhone 5.
4. Knockout Game – The Knockout Game made news this year as a startling street fad going on across the country where young people walk up to an unsuspecting stranger and slug them with the intentions of knocking the victim out.
5. Brooklyn Teens – At a Brooklyn mall teenagers gathered to combine flash mob and the knockout game into one horrible scene.
6. Florida Theater Brawl – In Florida a massive brawl broke out in a theater this week involving more that 600 people and took 60 cops to break up.
7. Obama Administration/Obamacare
This year’s terrible rollout of Obamacare and people losing their healthcare coverage gets the Obama Administration another mention in the Potter Awards.
8. Media – Coverage of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela did a lot of good things in this world before he passed away. He also did some very bad things before his transformation. You wouldn’t know that after the national media coverage of the days after his passing. Mandela was essentially granted the role of deity from the media.
9. A&E – A&E Network makes the list for their poor decision to fire Phil Robertson from the Duck Dynasty show. Thankfully A&E came to their senses after Christmas and Duck Dynasty, including Phil, will be back on the air.
10. Barbara Walters – Makes the Potter Awards for her recent remarks saying how she expected President Obama to be “the second coming”. This is a glimpse into the mindset of pop culture that helped get Obama elected twice.
11. City of Portland, Oregon – Portland makes the list for not allowing our Golden George Award winner Madison Root to sell her mistletoe.
12. Chester Township, Pennsylvania – Chester, Pennsylvania came into conflict with one of our Golden George winners for fining Angela Prattis for feeding the hungry in her community because she didn’t have proper permits and wasn’t obeying zoning laws. Ridiculous!
13. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Philadelphia makes the list (sorry Pennsylvania for getting two cities on the list) for threat of legal action towards Ori Feibush. What was Feibush’s “crime”? He was simply using his own time and money to clean up abandoned lots so he can start his business after the city was dragging its feet on the cleanup.