Drake receives Wayne Neal service award

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

By Lynn A. Wade

Nevada Daily Mail

Carla Drake thought she was to be part of a program celebrating Special Olympics, an organization close to her heart. Instead, three Special Olympians -- Levi Grant, Whitney Collins and Kylee Jordan -- along with friends, family and teachers, helped the Nevada Rotary Club honor her with the Wayne Neal Service Above Self Award.

It's an award that honors high character, achievement and service above self to the community, and is given not more than once a year to a student who is a senior in a Vernon County high school.

Named after Wayne Neal, a Rotarian and former city manager, the award goes to a student who sets a high standard for themselves.

To be eligible, a student must exhibit service to the community beyond the norm; exhibit care and support to others, exhibit leadership in school, community church or other organizations; exhibit tenacity in getting things done; and exhibit high ethical and moral standards. Nominees must meet all of the criteria to be given the award.

This year it went to Drake, who was nominated for her character and work at school, her involvement in Students Against Destructive Decisions, her efforts in creating a student game night, her support and leadership of other students in band, and her devotion to the athletes she coaches in Special Olympics. She's also passing the torch -- by getting her younger brother involved in coaching Special Olympics as well.

Nevada High School teacher Juli Holland wrote a letter nominating Carla for the award, listing many of the achievements illustrating Carla's dedication and character, saying, "Carla will do great things because of her love and dedication to the service of others. She exemplifies the Service Above Self Award."

Other teachers offered equally high praise of Carla, noting her persistence in coordinating a game night, which had to be attended by at least two faculty members.

"I found it was easier to say 'yes' to Carla and change my plans," than to say no to her charmingly persistent efforts, said teacher Cindy Bullard.

Kylee, Levi and Whitney all addressed members of the Rotary Club during a presentation ceremony in honor of Carla's award at the Country Club on Thursday. All three thanked Carla for her dedication and her friendship as a coach for Special Olympics.

"She always helps us, she takes time out of her day to do that. Not all of the coaches do that," Levi said.

More than that, added Kylee, "she makes me smile."

Three basketballs -- brought to the ceremony as part of a ruse to get Carla to the ceremony without her suspecting the honor was to be hers -- were later to be given to the representatives of Special Olympics in attendance.

Carla, who is a 2005 graduate of Nevada High School, plans to pursue a degree and career in special education, and will receive $500 from the Nevada Rotary Club as this year's Wayne Neal Service Above Self Award recipient.

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