2018 J. Blanton Belk Outstanding Alumnus – Darrel LeJeune
Darrel LeJeune will be recognized as the 2018 J. Blanton Belk Outstanding Alumnus at this year’s Reunion. After traveling with Cast A 1983, Darrel took to heart the spirit of Up with People by returning to his hometown of Basile, Louisiana, and, through his work as an educator, business owner, civic leader and community performer, inspired the people of his community to make their community a better place to live. For the community of Basile and the family, friends and Uppies in Darrel’s life, his small, daily inspiration, support, encouragement, and enthusiasm make Darrel LeJeune of Cast A 1983 perfectly suited to be recognized as the 2018 J. Blanton Belk Outstanding Alumnus honoree.
2018 Everyday Hero – Lisa Beardsley
Lisa Beardsley spends her time running her own business that works to establish schools in remote areas on the Pacific Island nations to provide opportunities for indigenous youth in these communities. After traveling with Cast A 1993 and spending some additional time with Up with People, Lisa returned to her native Hawaii, where she has remained, to build the relationships and trust necessary to provide this kind of resource to indigenous people all around the Pacific. Lisa makes a difference for so many that it’s fitting to all her an Everyday Hero.
2018 Everyday Hero – Dominick D’Aunno
Dominick D’Aunno of Cast A 1983 attributes his time in Up with People to helping him tap into the caring, compassion and empathy he has to help people as a physician. Beyond his work as a physician though, his drive to help convince the University of Texas to open a clinic dedicated to primary care for deaf individuals or to start his own medical company focused on free care for psychiatric patients are the things that make Dominick stand apart for his fellow physicians. Dominick distinguishes himself, for going above and beyond the norm, as an Everyday Hero.
2018 Everyday Hero – Annika Lysen
Annika Lysen of Cast A 1983 works through the Swedish Embassy in Zambia to help build social welfare systems in the county of Zambia, raise money for youth education, and invest in land cultivation techniques for better farming ad herding. Through her effort, the people around her can live longer, healthier, and more independent lives. As someone who puts the lives of others in front of her own, Annika is and Everyday Hero.
2018 Everyday Hero – Jamie Robinson
Jamie Robinson has been committed to advocating for people with all types of disabilities, especially for those in the deaf community. After travelling with Cast A 1993, she took on this work, partially because of her experiences as someone dealing with bi-polar disorder. Jamie also presents seminars and trainings to help communities deal with racial issues. Jamie has taken her life experiences and the inspiration of Up with People to help make her community and other communities better places to live, which makes her an Everyday Hero.
2018 Everyday Hero – Steve Rokowski
Steve Rokowski of Cast A 1973 has devoted himself to fulfilling the mission of Up with People through his generosity and service to the Up with People family. Steve supported Herb Allen and his wife Jane through many of their medical challenges and has been a key in helping honor Founder J. Blanton Belk during his 90th birthday celebration and honoring Bill Holmes after his passing. For his compassion towards the entire Up with People family, Steve is truly and Everyday Hero.
2018 Outstanding Cast Representative – Belinda Lasch
Belinda Lasch has been the mother hen to Cast A 1983 since they were on the road. This year, more than 65 members of the cast will be attending the reunion, much of it due to Belinda’s efforts. She is a constant in the lives of each member of the cast and keep them engaged in everything Up with People and the UWPIAA is doing on a regular basis. Belinda is a model Cast Representative and truly deserving of being this year’s Outstanding Cast Representative.
2018 Sam Lanham Award for Extraordinary Service – Beth Clay
Beth Clay of Cast A 2008 has served the UWPIAA Board as both an Era Representative and Vice-President. Among the existing programs that Beth enhanced as regular pieces of the alumni experience at Reunions are Cast K and Cast T and the Memorial Room. Additionally, she played a key role in leading the Board to articulate a Mission and Vision Statement for the UWPIAA. Beth’s instant and ongoing commitment to the UWPIAA makes her an ideal recipient of the Sam Lanham Award for Extraordinary Service.