The Second Annual Good LIFE Awards: Positively Amazing

By: Caitlin Vanlaningham Last Updated: July 11, 2013

Have you ever had an experience that kept a smile on you face and warmth in your heart from beginning to end? That was what everyone at the Second Annual Good LIFE Awards felt the entire time during the event. Celebrating good things will do that to a person.

The chosen venue for the event was Industrial Revolution Eatery and Grille where the event had taken place in 2012. Industrial Revolution gladly lent their space for the Ideas in Motion Media Team to throw our party and honor six individuals who have had a strong positive impact in their community.

“We’re just happy to be here with the Life team,”Jennifer Leeson, owner of Industrial Revolution said. “We love everything that ValpoLife does and Chris represents what’s great in the community. He always wants to show everything positive that’s going on in the community so we’re more than happy to know the Lifers and be part of this great event.”

Upon entering, guests of the Good LIFE Awards walked a red carpet and had their picture taken by one of our Life team members. People were looking sharp as they mingled and chatted with one another. We Lady Lifers were looking extra special that evening as we all were sporting some dazzling dresses from Catherine’s Bridal Boutique.

Before the winners of the awards were given out. La Porte Mayor Blair Milo spoke to the crowd. Not only did she have everyone listening, she had everyone on ther feet as she began he speech by asking everyone to get up and participate in a little physical activity. She explained that the US spent about $2.7 trillion on health related issues. Mayor Milo said that many many ailments can be prevented through physical activity and lead the room in a round of arm circles. After the creative attention-getter, Mayor Milo transitioned her speech into how much she valued the work that we have done in La Porte County.

“I've had the great opportunity to work with Chris and his fantastic team on a number of issues that they've helped highlight on what we're trying to do. They've been a fantastic partner of a program that we have called Fitness Friday," Mayor Milo said."I've so appreciated the opportunity to work with Chris and Natalie, Theresa, Jenny, Vicki and everybody that's part of the team here at PotageLife, ValpoLife and LaPorteCountyLife. You are making such a huge difference across Northwest Indiana. And as I've seen specifically in La Porte, you are caring for all of the positive things that are happening across our community. It's making a tremendous difference in the region, the communities and in the mindsets and the level of happiness that I see with all of the citizens all across the area."

After Mayor Milo spoke, Jon Groth (Director of the Porter County Career and Technical Center and a recipient of a Good LIFE Award from 2012) spoke.

“ValpoLife and my school have a lot in common,” Groth said to the crowd. “Like them, we don’t catch kids at my school doing things wrong, we catch them doing things right. We try to continually make sure that we recognize everything positive that they do.”

Following Groth was Rob Thorgren,President of the Valpo Schools Foundation.

“For those of you who don’t know, there are two wonderful beneficiaries of this event tonight –the Portage Township YMCA and the La Porte County United Way. The Foundation is very appreciative as we were last year’s beneficiaries of this great event,” Thorgren said. “So thank you first and foremost to Ideas in Motion Media as a whole for your support of the Valpo Schools Foundation.”

“We are very grateful to part of this event tonight,”Kris Pate, Executive Director of the La Porte County United Way, said after Thorgren finished his speech. “At United Way we’re always thinking about how we can bring the community together and get everybody in fun stuff and things that are positive and good. We do this a lot and we always see LaPorteCountyLife around when we do. They’re cheering us on and supporting us and that means so much.”

"At United Way of La Porte County we're a staff of four people. And we really dont't have a marketing person -we really don't have a marketing budget. We rely so much on Chris and his team at LaPorteCountyLife.com. They are our marketing team," Dave Sisk, Manager of Community Engagement for the United Way of La Porte County, said. "All of the good news that we do in La Porte is shared by them through their website and through their Facebook page. It's just wonderful."

Nancy Simpson, Marketing and Fund Development Director at the Portage Township YMCA, expressed her gratitude and happiness as well.

“I’d like to thank Ideas in Motion Media for choosing the Portage YMCA as one of the organizations to receive the proceeds from this great event,” Simpson said. “I’ve never seen so many happy people! I guess when you spend most of your time focusing on the positive you see lots of smiling faces. PortageLife and their team have been wonderful from day one.”

Then Chris Mahlmann, Publisher and CEO of Ideas in Motion Media, the man who made his idea a reality and changed the lives of so many because of his drive and determination, was handed the microphone. He announced with great pride that the fourth Life site NWIndianaLife.com will be launching on August 1, 2013 (woohoo!) and then went on to announce six winners of the Good LIFE Awards while we Lifers stood by his side.

The first winner was Mayor Blair Milo.

“She made time for me on her very first day as mayor as one of her first appointments. She embraced our mission from that moment until now, and every single time we asked anything of her she said yes. And never once has she ever asked for anything in return,” Mahlmann said of Mayor Milo.

Second was Donna Flanagin, owner of Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service.

“She takes the family business model to a whole new level. She hands out kindness cards that aim to inspire others to share their own kindness forward. Her community involvement in fundraisers, non-profit support, and events of all kinds has been obvious throughout the years,” Mahlmann said of Flanagin. “She is a fairy princess - how often do you get to give an award to a fairy princess?”

The third winner was Nancy Simpson.

“From the minute we met Nancy understood how similar the mission is of the Portage YMCA and PortageLife,” Mahlmann said of Simpson. “Every time we have talked to Nancy her first question is how can we help you?”

Fourth was Mary Koselke, owner of Blackbird Café.

“Everything about her and [Blackbird Café] encourages diversity through the way people look, think, act, dress, talk, their age, background and all the way to Mary - they're all good,” Mahlmann said of Koselke.

Fifth was Tom Steindler Jr. owner of Steindler Signs & Graphix.

“His people are great and their work speaks for itself. You might have seen one of us on occasion driving a car wrapped by Steindler or a banner he made for us. We try to be subtle but occasionally we are spotted,” Mahlmann said. “He earns your respect every day as a Valpo firefighter. He earned my respect when we were just a goofy idea that was not much more than a prayer, and he called me back. Now I have a sign guy for Life.”

And the sixth winner of a Good Life Award was Dr. Tom Cavanaugh, Jr.

“He welcomed me into his family 20 plus years ago and has been endlessly supportive as a man could be, literally wearing on his sleeve our brand and our mission whether it be the golf shirt, the baseball cap, or the jacket; telling everyone he talks to about his son in law that has this website all about good news,” Mahlmann said of Cavanaugh. “More than anything else, Doc Cavanaugh has been Dad to me for the last 20 years and his family is my family and I will forever be thankful for that welcome.”

A delicious dinner was provided by the amazing kitchen staff at Industrial Revolution. Guests had their choice of fresh fruit skewers and a veggie tray, savory pulled pork sliders, boneless chicken wings, multi-colored tortilla chips that could be smothered with their famous molten cheese dip and mini model T turkey melts. There were also three specialty drinks available that evening of which guests could partake in their very own custom commemorative mugs emblazoned with our Life logos.

Music was provided by the talented Wade Breitzke, owner of 27 Entertainment and WeCreate Media, and camera bulbs flashed aplenty as people captured memories on their phones, members of our team took photos and Brad Cavanaugh of Air One Custom Photography snapped away on his impressive camera.

Proceeds from the Good LIFE Awards went to the Portage YMCA and the La Porte County United Way.

We’d like to extend a warm thank you to our sponsors: 27 Entertainment,Catch 22, Catch All Media, Catherine’s Bridal Boutique,Century 21 Alliance Group, Direct Mail Advantage, Engstrom Jewelers, Extra Mile Fitness Company, GLEDC, Horizon Bank, Impact Solutions, IU Health La Porte Hospital, Lakeshore Paws,Lakeshore Public Television, McAfee Animal Hospital, McColly Real Estate, Metro Recycling, NIPSCO, NITCO, Pine Ford Lincoln, Porter Regional Hospital,Rittenhouse Senior Living, Sage-Popovich, Steindler Signs and Graphix, St. Mary Medical Center, Task Force Tips, and Vale Park Animal Hospital.

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