HOUSTON – Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, President of the United States, champion for education as the strength of democracy and advocate for a free press and freedom of religion. He also had a spirit of excellence, entrepreneurship, leadership and a heart to give back to America.
It is for those reasons that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, created the Jefferson Awards in 1972 to serve as this country’s “Nobel Prize for public service.”
Five people in North Mississippi have been named as 2014 local recipients of The Jefferson Awards for Public Service.
• Stephen Tybor, of Tupelo, co-founder of Eight Days of Hope and vice president and business manager of Heartland Siding.
• Larry Ferguson, of Pontotoc, formed Ashley’s Angels. Angels deliver thousands of toys at Christmas to needy children across Northeast Mississippi. The organization has generated over $1,000,000 in donations and benefited nearly 10,000 children since 1997.
• Dr. David Cole, former President of Itawamba Community College, and a career educator with more than 43 years in public education.
• Doyce Deas, a professional volunteer Deas either currently serves or has served on two dozen boards, committees and associations, including the Tupelo Corps Salvation Army, Tupelo Symphony Orchestra, CREATE and Mississippi Center for Non-Profits.
• Dr. Victor Horn, a Houston physician who has been the driving force of a free clinic at First Baptist Church that is staffed by local volunteers. Over the past nine years the clinic has seen thousands of patients and given away almost $500,000 in medicine and services.
The purpose of the Jefferson Awards is to honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service in order to inspire and encourage others to get involved.
The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients represent a “Who’s Who” of outstanding Americans. On the local level, Jefferson Awards recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.
Local finalists are highlighted each March.
A panel of judges reviews all nominations and chose 12 Mississippi Jefferson Award winners. From those 12 winners, the most outstanding candidate will be chosen to represent our community at the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in June 2014.
Past national winners are American history makers and include Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Thurgood Marshall, Secretary of State Colin Powell, First Ladies, Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford, as well as Oprah Winfrey, Peyton Manning, Hank Aaron, Sen. John Glenn and Ken Burns.