Special Recognition

Special Recognition
Presented to persons & organizations whose contributions are far-reaching & of a special nature

2016 Honoree
Dr. Tim Ballweber & Ballweber Orthodontics
Helena, MT

Dr. Tim Ballweber and Ballweber Orthodontics Dr. Tim Ballweber and Ballweber Orthodontics have sponsored the Grandstreet Theatre School camp in Helena, Montana, for the past 16 years, including providing money for scholarships, t-shirts, and advertising. Ten years ago Dr. Ballweber offered to sponsor the theatre's annual Christmas show, as well, and in the most recent five years underwrote the cost of a t-shirt for every child participating in the Christmas event. Over the years, Dr. Ballweber and his team have provided over $97,500 in funding to help children from many different states and countries attend Grandstreet Theatre School at an affordable price, an impressive sum for a small business in a community with a population of 29,596. "I watched my children grow up in the Grandstreet Community Theatre Program," he explains. "Their participation in after school educational theatre programs, auditioning, and taking part in the community plays has given them tools and social skills that have helped them develop into young, confident adults with amazing talent.  I have seen that same thing many times over with other youth in our community.  Many have gone on to excel in theatre on a national level.  I am also a strong believer in giving back to the community, particularly when it involves education and youth."

2016 Honoree
Sue Ellen Gerrells
Alabaster, AL

Sue Ellen GerrellsSue Ellen Gerrells has taught drama classes for University of Maryland Extension, and worked in community theatre in the United States, the Republic of Singapore, and Japan. During that time she has been associated with over 135 productions as actor, producer, or director, and has served on the boards of several community theatres as artistic director and president. Sue Ellen has worked tirelessly over the years for the Alabama Conference of Theatre, as well as for AACT and various community theatres around the country, receiving awards for acting in the United States, Singapore, and at the International Community Theatre Festival in Dundalk, Ireland. "Community theatre has been a major part of my life for the past 50 years," she points out. "It's where I hone my theatrical skills, utilize my creativity and imagination, and, most important, make life-long friends. I love the collaborative nature as well as the discipline of play production. Simply put, community theatre is home."

2016 Honoree
Rhonda Wilson
Gainesville, FL

Rhonda WilsonRhonda Wilson founded the Star Center Children's Theatre in Gainesville, Florida 15 years ago. She had no funds, but with hope and determination, her dream of giving youth and their families the opportunity to learn, grow, and enjoy the beauty of the arts came true. She wanted to give kids who didn't have a chance to take acting, singing, and instrumental classes, a place to go that was low-cost or no-cost. Rhonda continues to volunteer with the Center, and she continues to do it because of the kids. "Community theatre is an open playground for all kinds of people," she emphasizes. "Theatre not only provides performing skills, but life skills. My mission is to bring unity to people who would otherwise be divided. Theatre provides that opportunity."  Rhonda has helped youth gain confidence through performance and classes, and the Star Center has brought people together from throughout the community through the arts.  Rhonda has recently won the Allstate National Champion for Good Award, State of Florida Diversity and Inclusion Award, Spirit of Gainesville Award, and many more recognitions, including the Distinguished Career Award from the Florida Theatre Conference for her work with children and community theatre.

Previous Recipients

1996  A. R. Gurney
1997  International Thespian Society
1998  Studio de Monaco - World Festival of Amateur Theatre
          Dundalk (Ireland) International Maytime Festival
          Toyama (Japan) International Theatre Festival
1999  Stephen Peithman (Davis, CA)
2000  Kurt Majkowski (Eau Claire, WI)
2001  1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery
          (Fort Sill, Lawton, OK)
2002  Frank Peot (Sun Prairie, WI)
2003  Vilseck Bavarian Arts Guild (Vilseck, Germany)
2004  Patty Duke (Northern ID)
2005  Kathie Maldonado (Hobbs, NM)

2005  Kathie Maldonado (Hobbs, NM)
2007  Angela L. Ardolino (Miami, FL)
2008  Victoria L. Hanrahan (Ansbach, Germany)
2009  Robert G. Anderson (Starkville, MS)
          John Kollack (Clarkesville, GA)
2010  Dan LaMorte (US Army, Europe)
2011  Ruth Legg* (Geneva, NY)
          L. Ross Rowland* (Muncie, IN)
2012  Merrie Dawkins (Rockingham, NC)
2013  Michael Fenlason (Tucson, AZ)
          Jan Mitchell (Menifee, KY)
2014  Wil Breden (Wellesley, MA)
          Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)
          Kirk Players (Mundelein, IL)
2015   Dr. Mary Kay Switzer (Banning, CA)
2015   Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre (Grand Forks, ND)

          * Deceased


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