4th Annual Celebration of Strong Women Honors Winners and Nominees
For the fourth year in a row, strong women from across South Mississippi were honored at the Celebration of Strong Women. On May 20, more than 100 women were honored for leadership, perseverance, mentorship, promise and defense of others.
“We never cease to be amazed at the number of accomplished women who are nominated as Strong Women,” said Wesley Medical Center Marketing Director Lisa Slay. “When we started this program four years ago we knew there were countless women who should be recognized for the wonderful work that they do in their churches, schools and communities. This is our way to honor them.”
The winner in the defender category was Cherri Nobles. Cherri has been the Social Service Director of the Salvation Army for the past eight years. Her nominator, Debby Cain, said, “Cherri has spent a lifetime and career standing in the gap for those in need. I have had the opportunity to see her selfless work and have been amazed at her tireless efforts in moving many families out of homelessness and despair to being productive members of our community. She does not judge those she helps. She sees them through the eyes of Christ.”
One example of Cherri’s selflessness was seen while she was working with a woman and her children who were living out of their car. Cherri rallied many local agencies to help this woman with an apartment, power bills and employment. When everything seemed to be falling into place, an auto accident damaged this woman’s car, making it impossible for her to get to work. For several days Cherri took this woman to work and her children to school until she could get back on her own two feet. This is just one example of many where Cherri has put others before herself.
The other nominees in the defender category were Elaine Brannan, Traci Bruckmeier, Leslie Curry, Stella Elakovich, Nancy Estes, Marilyn Huff, Lucille Lomineck, Mary McSwain, Selina Merrell, Nawassie Montgomery, Valerie Rachal, Karen Reidenbach, Brenda Sumrall, Shoub Sumrall and Janice Swiggum.
The winner in the leader category was Minister Toni Burt. Her husband Dr. Orlando Burt said of his wife, “Toni is continuously pouring herself into others to develop and encourage them to reach their full potential. As a devoted wife, mother, minister and principal, she still makes time for others.” Toni is co-founder and vice president of Word of Faith Christian Foundation, which was founded in 2006. This foundation provides Christian education for children ages two and a half years old through the third grade. The Association of Christian Schools International even recognized the school and the hard work and dedication Toni has given as principal. Most recently, Toni was influential in organizing a local Purity Ball for girls as young as five years old in the Hattiesburg community, which was held to give fathers and daughters a special opportunity to build and strengthen their relationships.
The other nominees in the leader category were Peggy Ainsworth, Kim Aust, Sheila Barnett, Marilyn Dalgleish, JoBeth Doherty, Aleene Findley, Frances Hervey, LeShun Jones, Sharon Miles, Peggy Moore, Dawn Ramey, Susan Riley, Nikki Robinson, Ada Walker, Becky Ryder, Beverly Smallwood, Dee Tatum, Marsha Walters and Annie Wimbish.
The winner in the mentor category was Kimberly Schramm. Kimberly currently works not one, but four jobs. She is the a physical therapist and manager for Petal Ortho and Sports Rehab, works part-time at Wesley Medical Center, works part-time at Summit Rehab and then finds time to cover athletic events at area schools as an athletic trainer. She runs three to five miles every day and recently competed in a half marathon. She is active in Court Street United Methodist Church where she teaches Sunday school and is a volunteer for the Girl Scouts. Kim has been married to her husband Mike for 12 years and they have three boys. Her nominator and co-worker, Tanya Powell, “I am blessed and honored to work with such a vibrant and tenacious individual. When I am down and out I think about her and wonder how she does it. I also wonder, ‘how can I be more like her?’ God definitely put her on this earth to touch each individual she comes into contact with.”
Other nominees in the mentor category were Sandy Adcock, Linda Sue Alston, Martha Bufkin, Annette Campbell, Virginia Clark, Diane Coleman, Monica Donohue, Virginia Eberling, Rosalyn Folks, Eloise Gray, Christine Howell, Susan King, Sheila Kribbs, Carolyn Lang, Fredna Madden, Dessie McCarty, Nora Newbill, Sheila Priestley, Lisa Slade, Terri Smith and Delories Williams.
The winner in the perseverance category was Carol Lindley. Her nominator, and son, Brent said, “Any woman who raises three boys is a strong woman and worthy of much recognition. However, my mom has endured much during her life including breast cancer and West Nile encephalitis and she has done so with a ‘strong woman’ attitude toward defeating both.” For 23 years Carol has made it her life mission to fight cancer. “I wanted breast cancer to be my ministry to others,” said Carol. Carol has worked for years with the American Cancer Society and even became a Reach to Recovery Trainer where she shares her story and road to recovery with other women on a statewide level. Carol recently began a noon breast cancer support group, which allows more women to share their worries, stories and questions with others who are or have suffered with breast cancer. Her son Brent describes her best, “She is a persevering, servant-leader who thinks of innovative ways to serve others.
Other nominees in the perseverance category were Rosemary Bass, Cathy Breland, Rosemary Bellipani, Sandra Benintende, Joyous Bethel, Theola Broadhead, Betty Brown, Betty Carlisle, Connie Courtney, Judy Davis, Allene Findley, Joyce Gill, Norma Gilpin, Annette Hembree, Barbara Hinton, Brandiilyne Irvin, Edith James, Regertha Jordan, Linda Keen, April Lazenby, Sarah Magee, Barbara McInnis, Judith Moody, Lauree Mooney, Heather Norwood, Angie Pradat, Julie Radomski (posthumously), Linda Rawls Barbara Stanley, Wanda Stephens, Ernestine Tatum, Sue Traylor, Dulcie Wallace and Lucille Whitson.
The winner in the promise category was Cheryl Gaudet. Her aunt and nominator, Sheila Gaudet, said, “She has demonstrated a strong commitment to personal standards throughout her short, but difficult life.” No matter the personal challenges Cheryl faced, she maintained good grades and participated in the gifted student programs at each school. Cheryl is now an honor-roll student at Sacred Heart School where she has participated in theatre, cross-country track and swimming. She is active in CYO at Sacred Heart and has served in Westminster Presbyterian Church’s summer service projects and has volunteered hundreds of hours of service to the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club where she was a finalist for the 2008 Youth of the Year. She also received the Young Runner of the Year Award in 2006 from the Pine Belt Pacers. “Throughout all of her difficulties she always has compassion for others and pitches in to help wherever she is needed,” said her aunt. “For a girl of 16 to show such strength is remarkable. She will be one of those people who changes the world. That is what makes her a strong woman.”
The other nominees in the promise category were Tai Applewhite, Maylen Musgrove, Rebecca Ward, Amelia Landers, Katherine Pittman and Shemiko McInnis.
NOTE: THE CELEBRATION OF STRONG WOMEN IS PRESENTED BY WESLEY MEDICAL CENTER AND IS SPONSORED BY LIFETIME TELEVISION FOR WOMEN, COMCAST SPOTLIGHT, WOMEN’S PAVILION OF SOUTH MISSISSIPPI AND LIGHTS JEWELERS AND GEMOLOGISTS.