Candy Vandenberg was named by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance Ambassador Group as Ambassador of the Year 2012.
Vandenberg has served as an Ambassador since 2000. She is a 34-year veteran of the financial services industry and currently works with Ent Federal Credit Union as business banker.
The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau recognized regional first responders and those tasked with rebuilding the devastated neighborhoods after the Waldo Canyon fire at its annual Tourism Industry Awards Celebration Nov. 7.
This year’s theme was “A Community of Heroes.” Industry awards were presented by CVB president and CEO Doug Price and CVB board chairperson Alicia McConnell, who is also the director of training sites and community partnerships at the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Those first responders recognized included the Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center with Jerri Marr accepting the award and Colorado Springs Together with Team Leader Bob Cutter accepting the award. Other first responder recognitions went to: Palmer Lake Fire Department; Security Fire Station 2; Stratmoor Hills Fire Department; Hanover Fire Department; Calhan Fire Department; Cañon City Fire Station 1; and Mountain Communities Volunteer Fire Department.
The Tourism Industry Achievement Award was given to Bonnie Frum, who recently retired after 18 years as director of operations for Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. This particular award is not presented every year and is reserved for individuals who have made a profound mark on the local tourism industry.
The Management Hero Award was given to Brian Healy of the Colorado Springs Marriott. Healy updated and executed the evacuation plan for the property two days prior to the fire and worked with Chuck Murphy of Gray Line Tours to pre-arrange for the safe evacuation of guests should it become necessary. The staff safely evacuated more than 1,000 guests within 35 minutes.
The Volunteer Hero Award was given to Carol Ekarius, executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. Ekarius and her volunteers spent more than 5,000 hours at Flying W Ranch, donating seed, providing instruction on promoting vegetation growth and preventing or mitigating flooding.
The Staff Hero Award was given to Jason Moore, operations director of the Flying W Ranch. When the fire broke out, Moore immediately returned to the ranch to evacuate horses and save priceless memorabilia. Throughout the weekend, he provided refreshments to firefighters and policemen. He drove a hay-filled truck to coax cattle to safety in the northern pasture and then cared for them until they could be relocated to Norris-Penrose Event Center.
Kathy Reak, director of convention sales and Cheryl McCullough, sports and special events sales manager, were both recognized for 15 years of service to the organization.
Friends of Garden of the Gods, an all-volunteer non-profit, donated $20,000 to assist with a debris and invasive tree removal project in Camp Creek, which runs through Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.
“This work is very important,” said City Forester Paul Smith. “Camp Creek was identified by the Army Corps of Engineers as a target area that needs work to help prevent debris jams and flooding following the Waldo Canyon Fire. We want to do our part to make sure water flows through smoothly to protect Garden of the Gods and those downstream.”
The project includes three phases, and begins in November. Friends of Garden of the Gods is funding phases two and three of the project.
“This project is very consistent with our mission of protecting the Garden of the Gods Park,” said John Demmon, president, Friends of Garden of the Gods board of directors. “We want to continue to do all we can to preserve and enhance the natural and historic assets of the Garden of the Gods for residents and visitors.”