On Thursday evening, Valpo Parks Foundation celebrated their 75 year legacy and the community’s spirit of volunteerism at their Annual Friends & Legends Award Ceremony. Hosted at the William E. Urschel Pavilion, the awards, including the Community Champion Award, the Legendary Friend Award, and the Malasto Legends Award, honored three individuals and the law firm of Douglas, Koeppen & Hurley for their exceptional efforts to better Valparaiso and support Valpo Parks.
For Valpo Parks Executive Director John Seibert, the ceremony is always a special evening that reflects the core values of Valparaiso and its residents.
“So much of what happens here is because of public and private partnerships, volunteerism, and deep generosity,” he said. “Certainly with our parks, the mark of exceptionalism is when good things become even greater because of people volunteering their time and treasure to make them even better than they would be with our efforts alone. This is about thanking everyone, and highlighting a few people that went above and beyond.”
Valpo Parks is continually adding new and diverse parks and programs to their system. Facilities like the ValPAWraiso Dog Park and Samardzija Field were made possible thanks to the philanthropic contributions and volunteerism celebrated at Friends & Legends.
“Community support is the reason why we’re able to accomplish creating such beautiful places and projects,” said Kevin Nuppnau, Business Operations Director for Valpo Parks. “It’s the people that use thesefacilities who we are caretakers for; they’re extremely helpful in letting us finish everything we set out to do.”
Bob Spaulding, Jr. was presented with the Community Champion Award for leading the way in creating the new Creekside Trails Mountain Bike Trail. The award, Seibert noted, celebrates people pushing boundaries and finding ways to engage new people in the community. Spaulding donated months of his time and energy to personally help build the new trails, which have sparked a big interest in mountain biking in Valparaiso.
“It never really felt like work, it’s just been a wonderful adventure,” Spaulding said. “I’m very thankful to this community. I love this city, I love Valparaiso, and I plan on being here for the rest of my life.”
The law firm of Douglas, Koeppen & Hurley was presented with the Legendary Friend Award. Their team of legal experts, starting with George Douglas, Herb Douglas, and now Brad Koeppen, have provided counsel for each of Valpo Park’s 75 years.
“Working with the Parks Department was a real privilege and learning experience,” Herb Douglas said. “It’s been a great trip, the park board, superintendents, and directors, have all been great over the years. I’m sure that they’ll continue to give us a parks department and system that’s the pride of everyone here today.”
Ivan and Pat Bodensteiner received the evening’s highest honor, the Malasto Legends Award, for their years of dedicated volunteerism and generosity to not only Valpo Parks and the Valpo Parks Foundation, but countless causes throughout the Region.
“It’s really nice to live in a city where parks are taken as a very important part of the community,” Ivan Bodensteiner said. “Parks really say something about a community. Here, they’re much more than a place for softball games or tennis, they’re a true priority.”To learn more about Valpo Parks, visit www.valpoparks.org. The video stream of the entire Friends and Legends Ceremony is available at www.facebook.com/valpoparks.