First Lady Maureen McDonnell announced the First Lady’s Opportunity Hall of Fame award recipients at the fourth annual awards reception held last night at the Executive Mansion.
The awards are part of the First Lady’s Initiatives Team Effort (FLITE), which Mrs. McDonnell launched in 2010 to recognize programs, activities, organizations, and individuals who embody the ideal of creating a Commonwealth of Opportunity in their communities. Four individuals and groups received the First Lady’s Opportunity Hall of Fame Award, which included a $2,000 grant to further their work.
The First Lady has now recognized nearly 100 individuals and organizations across the Commonwealth for their tireless efforts. To receive an award these organizations and groups were nominated, completed an application, and then evaluated by the FLITE review committee.
The FLITE Foundation recognizes people and organizations in four key areas:
- Preventive healthcare and wellness
- Economic development through promotion of Virginia wine, film, and tourism
- Service to the military and their families
- Women in Business
Speaking about the Opportunity Hall of Fame award recipients, McDonnell remarked, “I launched FLITE because I wanted to recognize the great people of our state who work tirelessly to help others and showcase the character of Virginia. These individuals and organizations are making Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
First Lady’s Fourth Annual Opportunity Hall of Fame Award Recipients
HEAL Appalachia (Healthy Eating Active Living)
HEAL Appalachia was established in 2008 as a collaborative effort between Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) to build momentum in the fight against childhood obesity in Southern Appalachia. HEAL Appalachia focuses on four key areas of a person’s life to facilitate change:
- Where a person learns
- Where a person works
- Where a person heals
- Where a person worships
The Blue Ridge Marathon
The Blue Ridge Marathon was created by the Roanoke Regional Partnership to showcase the region’s commitment to making outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship, a core component of the Roanoke Region lifestyle. In 2010, the full marathon course included 3,076 feet of total elevation gain and 6,140 feet of total elevation change, now the 2013 course includes 3,620 feet of total elevation gain and 7,234 feet of total elevation change. Net proceeds from this race will go to Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway – the official National Park Service Blue Ridge Parkway’s 501(c)(3) membership organization for visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway. To date, the marathon has had over one million dollars in direct economic impact.
Final Salute Inc.
It is estimated that there are currently 55,000 homeless women veterans in the United States on any given day. Final Salute assists with immediate crisis intervention and works with women Veterans and their families in establishing plans toward self sufficiency.
Lisa Kratz Thomas
Lisa Kratz Thomas is the leader of an innovative, one-of-a-kind prisoner re-entry program in Virginia. She is a former internet radio talk show host on the Zeus Radio Network. Lisa’s show THIS IS YOUR LIFE: Courage to Change, broadcasted live weekly for two years sharing stories of wellness, recovery, and courage. She has helped the Governor in his efforts to expand prisoner re-entry and restore civil rights to give people second chances. Her contributions to women’s affairs, inmates and ex-offenders, and addiction prevention and recovery, are known throughout the Southeast Region of the United States.