Two leaders of Youth Challenge, the nonprofit group that offers recreational opportunities to children with physical disabilities, were recently recognized with awards for their service to the community.
Youth Challenge founder and executive director Mary Sue Tanis and trustee Charles Koch each received a Pillar Award for Community Service at a banquet Dec. 2 at LaCentre Conference and Banquet Facility in Westlake. The award was developed by Smart Business magazine and Medical Mutual to honor businesses and individuals dedicated to making Northeast Ohio a better place to live.
Charles Koch, chief administrative officer and partner of PartsSource, Inc., received the Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Pillar Award. Koch has been involved with Youth Challenge for two decades, serving as the president, vice president, treasurer and trustee over that period. His wife also volunteers, handling all of the organization’s accounting, payroll and bookkeeping. His children have also served Youth Challenge over the years as volunteers.
Tanis received the Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year Pillar Award.
A Fairview Park native, Tanis started Youth Challenge in 1976 after graduating with a degree in recreational therapy from the University of Colorado at Boulder. The outdoor sports enthusiast was concerned that too few recreational activities were available for the disabled.
Youth Challenge offers more than 180 programs each year, including basketball, baseball, swimming, skiing, tennis, arts and crafts, music, sailing, bowling, nature programs, dancing and field trips.
After being based in a school in Fairview Park for many years, Youth Challenge moved to a former warehouse complex on Sharon Road in Westlake in 2005. The space was converted to include a gymnasium.
Last month, one of Youth Challenge’s more than 300 teen volunteers, Shannon Visconti, was honored with the Youth in Philanthropy Leadership Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
A senior at Magnificat High School and resident of Bay Village, Visconti has volunteered at Youth Challenge since 2006, putting in more than 500 hours of service.
To learn more about Youth Challenge, visit the organization’s website at www.youthchallengesports.com.