Many individuals, businesses and clients were honored Friday during the 33rd annual Center for Human Services Recognition Luncheon at the Sedalia Country Club.

CHS Executive Director/CEO Ann Graff greeted the crowd by saying the center could not assist others without the support of community donors and volunteers.

“We are here because you made it possible for CHS to assist people to live life without limitations,” she said.

During the event, client Gordon McKinney was recognized for outstanding personal growth in community living. McKinney, a fan of superheroes, wore Batman sunglasses to accept his award while his sister Ann wore a Superman T-shirt and brother Doug wore a Spiderman shirt. Both Ann and Doug drove five hours from Arkansas to be with Gordon as he received the award.

Christian Peters, a client, was honored for outstanding personal growth in service coordination, while Hope Self and Randy Webster were honored for outstanding personal growth in employment services.

Dixon Larimore, 2, was also recognized for outstanding personal growth in family and child development. Dixon, who once had a cancerous brain tumor, was attending the ceremony with his parents, Garrett and Sarah Larimore.

Carrie Hayes, the service coordinator for Pettis County’s Missouri First Steps Program, said Dixon was the first-born child of the Larimores and the couple had celebrated “each developmental milestone that we hold near and dear to our hearts” just as any parents would.  At 11-months-old Dixon was growing and progressing well until August 2017, when he had a seizure and stopped breathing.

“Unfortunately, the precious gift of life can change in an instant, and never truly be the same.” Hayes told the crowd.

When Dixon collapsed, his father performed CPR and Dixon was transported to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where he was diagnosed with a large brain tumor.

“He underwent surgery to remove the cancerous brain tumor,” Hayes said. “Considering that a few parts of the tumor were unable to be removed, Dixon began weekly chemotherapy treatments that continued over the next year.  

“As a result of this surgery, many of the skills that he once mastered were lost,” she continued. “The task of having him relearn how to crawl, pull-up, walk, talk, feed himself and so on was no easy feat.”

Hayes noted as part of his rehabilitation the family enrolled Dixon into the First Steps Program, where they began receiving weekly therapy visits in their home.

“Through Dixon’s determination along with the constant support of his family and therapists, he has made amazing gains,” Hayes said. “It’s unbelievable what this little guy has endured and has overcome this past year and a half.”

Hayes added she was happy to report Dixon’s most recent scans show he is cancer-free. Dixon received his recognition award with a bright smile while being held in his father’s arms.

Receiving the outstanding generosity recognition were the Sedalia Lions Club for their work on creating a park along the Katy Trail and the City of Marshall for their Fun for All Playground in Marshall. Marshall was also recognized for outstanding employment opportunities along with Little Caesars, of Sedalia.

The community involvement recognition was awarded to Jack and Sue Menges and Sue Foster of Heart of America. Bothwell PEAK Sport and Spine and Bothwell Orthopedics Sports Medicine also received community involvement awards.

CHS Employees of the Year were Reba Lay in administration and Mikaela Schenewerk in program services. Graff also recognized Richard Parkhurst and Van VanDyne as CHS honorary board members.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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