Proving once again that there is certainly no shortage of good news in Northwest Indiana, Ideas In Motion Media was thrilled to present their 7th annual Good Life Awards event, honoring those individuals and non-profit organizations who work tirelessly year-round to make the Northwest Indiana region a better place in which to work, play, and live.
Winners of individual awards were hand-picked by Ideas In Motion Media founder Chris Mahlmann, and reflect the good that is all around the area. In previous years, winners were not announced prior to the event, but this year things were a bit different, with each of the six winners being announced in early December. In addition to the individual honorees, those attending the awards ceremony were each given a small supply of tokens to use to vote for their favorite non-profit organization from among the sixteen eligible. Three winners were chosen, with each winner to receive a full year-long marketing campaign on the Life networks to drive their message and campaign.
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Described as a “high energy kick-off party breakfast,” the 7th annual Good Life Awards were held once more at the beautiful Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton.
Mahlmann addressed the crowd, encouraging them to be the change that we would all like to see in the world.
“When we get to tell stories about people, like the ones we’re going to recognize here today, that’s what I like to do. People that have challenged systems, people that have pushed the boundaries, people that have held themselves to a higher standard.”
Mahlmann also welcomed the newest addition to the Life family with Stacey Kellogg, who will be spearheading the editorial department at Ideas In Motion Media, with high hopes for Ideas In Motion going into the new year.
“You will see us raise the bar in terms of the quality of our content. In terms of our coverage, you’ll see us raise the bar in terms of our professionalism in the community,” Mahlmann said. “In terms of commas… you’ll see them in the right places. Words matter. Words matter when you put the right people together.”
Leading into the awards, the first winner called up to receive their solid steel Good Life Award was Ken Elwood, longtime owner at Rhame, Elwood & McClure: Attorneys at Law. Ken has served Portage through countless board positions, service organizations, his work as an attorney, and coaching of our athletes for decades, as well as serving as the Chief of the public defender's office in Porter County.
“I met Chris ten-plus years ago, and I realized within ten minutes, that Natalie (Chris’ wife) was the brains of the organization,” Elwood joked. “But seriously, I want to thank Life for being the beacon of good news in what is becoming a more cynical press.”
Next up to the podium was Jerry Davich, the widely-read columnist for the Post Tribune newspaper, radio host at Lakeshore Public Radio - 89.1 FM, and writer for Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly.
In announcing Davich, Mahlmann told the crowd that Jerry speaks to who we are and acts as one of the important voices of the region by asking questions, engaging his readers, and the region to celebrate the beauty and challenges of NWI.
In accepting his award, Davich was characteristically modest.
“I appreciate this. Thank you,” Davich said. “Thanks to everyone here, and thanks to Chris. I know I write a lot about the controversy, and I’m going to atone for my sins, starting tomorrow. All good news.”
“Just don’t tell my editors,” Davich laughed.
Third to receive his award was Kevin Kosek, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Regional Federal Credit Union.
“Kevin Kosek has passion pouring out of his smile, heart, mind, and body for everything he supports,” Mahlmann said. “Whether it is cheering on his company Regional Federal Credit Union, coaching the boy's football teams at the junior high level, or jumping with excitement on the sidelines for the Valparaiso High School Football boys, Kevin is all in on everything he says and does. He has been one of the first believers in the Life mission, and he brings that enthusiasm to everyone he meets about our good news platform, and more importantly, our people.”
An emotional Kosek fought back a lump in his throat as he held the award.
“I’ve been on Chris’ front doorstep from day one, for this crazy experiment called Life. I couldn’t have been more thrilled,” Kosek said as he explained his personal theory of business. “I try to let the boss know that his team is doing well because I like to hear that my team is doing well when I’m out and about.”
Next, Mahlmann honored Kyle Granat, a former employee who built the foundation of everything Life related online and all our internal IT systems before moving on to pursue a career in robotics and 3D printing.
“His impact went so beyond his technology contribution,” Mahlmann said. “Making parade floats and carrying boomboxes, telling the news of ice cream socials at Valpo Velvet, and building so many things that were a special Chris request. He represents the best of what a Lifer is.”
Granat took the stage, honoring the Life crew by wearing his original Life polo shirt, still fresh with company logo, crediting his former employer with the success of where he is today.
“Everything in Valpo has become a huge part of who I am today,” said Granat. “Everything that I have given back to the community pales in comparison to what I have reaped from it.”
Next to the stage was Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. In announcing the mayor, Mahlmann had high praise.
“He thought what we were doing in Valpo was cool, and has been a vocal supporter to the Life mission from the first time we met,” Mahlmann said. “He has been up for every idea we've had to share good news about the region, was the first in bringing many ideas to fruition like our Driving the Streets of NWI video series, and making every person on our team so welcome and appreciated every time we are in Hammond. These are all part of why we will recognize Mayor Tom.”
“I’m a ‘news’ person. I read the news every day. My wife asks me how can I stand it," said McDermott. “That’s why what Chris is doing is so important. I think it’s a unique idea and I really appreciate everything that Chris does, everything that Jenny does.”
The last honoree was John Seibert, director of the Valpo Parks department.
“John works hard to make so many great programs available to Valpo residents young and old, and has mentored so many in the community who have worked for the Parks,” Mahlmann said in his introduction. “He invited me into his city, his classroom, and his team like no other leader in Valpo has done before or since. Good man, good dad, husband, friend, and mentor to many.”
Seibert, with gratitude and thanks, stated, “A key part of our mission at the parks department in Valparaiso is our partners. ValpoLife has always been one of those partners. We are thankful to have the folks in this room be our partners - we couldn’t do anything without you. Thank you.”
The event was a fantastic kick-off to the work day and uplifted everyone in attendance.
Sarah Fink Director of CASA, one of the three non-profits who won a year’s partnership with The Life Sites, discussed, “We are thrilled to be here today! We’re grateful for all the publicity we see from Life.” She also stressed the need for volunteers during her acceptance on behalf of CASA, “We’re constantly in need of more. It’s an important role, and it’s an important program, and we’re very grateful to ValpoLife for helping us get the word out about what we do.”
Debbie Martinez of Hannah’s Hope, the second winner between the nonprofits stated, “This is such a joy to be here, to see the representation for all these groups that do so much to help others. It’s spectacular. It’s not a competition, but rather a time for us to get together and learn from one another. We’re here to help other kids.”
Jill Kim, a representative for Girls on the Run, the third recipient of this year's partnership, stated, “This is such a great fit because we always tell our girls to be positive! Girls need that positivity in their lives. We are really excited about this partnership.”
Among the non-profits at this year’s event were:
Habitat for Humanity of Porter County - An organization seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.
Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter- An organization Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health
Duneland Family YMCA - Who believe they are helping to build tomorrow by impacting the lives of everyone in our Duneland Community today
Emma's Footprints - An organization created to keep their little girl's memory alive by bringing awareness to potential struggles that preemie infants and their families may face. They provide care packages for NICU families, bereavement care packages, support families after the loss of an infant, and work towards bringing awareness to both premature birth and infant loss.
United Way of Porter County - Seeking to unite and inspire our community to improve lives
La Porte County Family YMCA - A leading nonprofit for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. We are a powerful association of men, women, and children of all ages and stages of life, joined together by a shared passion - to build a better community
MDwise, Inc. - A local, Indiana-based nonprofit health care company, founded in 1994 to help vulnerable populations needing health coverage in Indiana
Pink Ribbon Society - An organization that helps promote breast cancer awareness. The Pink Ribbon Society services men and women in Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton Counties in Northwest Indiana
Frontline Foundations, Inc. - Serving as a source of hope to men and women ages 18-38 suffering from alcohol and drug abuse while also providing an effective treatment and recovery support system
Lubeznik Center for the Arts – Is a dynamic, contemporary arts center whose mission is to creatively interweave art exhibitions, the performing arts, educational programming, and collaborative community outreach in order to enrich the arts experience within the region.
Family House - Serves as a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses by providing physical comfort and emotional support, free from financial concerns.
Housing Opportunities, Inc. – Is a community-sustained nonprofit that resolves and prevents homelessness for adults, children, and seniors in Porter and LaPorte counties.
Ideas In Motion Media is grateful to the many sponsors who made this year's event possible, including NIPSCO, Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation, Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City, Regional Federal Credit Union, Northshore Health Centers, General Insurance Services, Steindler Signs and Graphix, CertaPro Painters, Holladay Properties, Party DJ’s, and the MAAC Foundation. Special thanks also to this year’s Champagne Sponsor, Nick Popovich of Sage-Popovich Inc. Special thanks also to Sand Creek Country Club for once again hosting the Good Life Awards, and to Mike Leeson, perhaps better known as the owner of Industrial Revolution Eatery & Grille for creating the steel awards for the 7th year in a row.