Thrive scraps in-person ceremony

Tonight's annual Awards of Excellence will be changed to a virtual event. Thrive is scrambling to contact nominees and record videos. Winners will be presented their awards.



November 19, 2020 - 9:28 AM

Thrive Allen County has scrapped plans for an in-person gathering for its annual Awards of Excellence tonight.

Initially, Thrive planned on hosting a scaled-down version of the event at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center in which only two representatives of each nominated group would attend. Traditionally, the event includes a banquet at which hundreds attend. 

“The Bowlus is a beautiful facility, and Duane’s Flowers was going to decorate for us,” said Thrive CEO Lisse Regehr. “It was going to be really nice, but we have to do what’s best for the community, even if it’s hard.

“We want people to feel celebrated. This is a year when we desperately need things to celebrate,” said Regehr. “But with cases rising locally, we sat down and said, ‘We just can’t do this.’ We’re a health and wellness organization, and we need to act like it. It’s our job to protect the community as best we can.”

COVID-19 cases in Allen County have risen considerably in the past several weeks, with 90 current active cases and a positive case rate of 20.7 per 1,000 residents.

After realizing the event’s attendees would number close to 100, Thrive’s staff realized proceeding forward was untenable, Regehr said. Nominees were notified of the change in plans Tuesday afternoon.

Instead, Thrive is in “a bit of a mad scramble,” according to Regehr, in its efforts to contact each of the nominees and record videos thanking them. For the winners, they’ll also be presented with their award. Thrive will proceed with its virtual ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday.

FOR Dr. Brian Wolfe, Thrive’s chairman of the board, the change in plans offers lessons for the community at large. “This means a total shift for how they’ll have to do this event. Hundreds of hours of work have been thrown out the window, and I’m sure that’s frustrating,” said Wolfe. “But their decision models what we all should be doing to protect ourselves during the pandemic.”

Thrive’s Awards for Excellence recognize community members who have made significant contributions in four main areas: health and wellness, economic development, recreation, and education. In addition, the ceremony, an annual event since 2008, features a Donna Talkington Award, three “Unsung Hero” awards, a “Volunteer of the Year” recognition, and, new this year, accolades for “Excellence in Response to COVID-19.”

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