Make a difference

The Bluegrass area chapter of the American Red Cross will honor a hero of the year at a banquet Thursday at the Marriott Griffin Gate.

David Ritchie was the overall chair for Dance Blue at the University of Kentucky. Dance Blue is a year-long fund-raising effort that benefits the Pediatric Oncology Clinic at UK Hospital. Each year, student organizations raise money to sponsor dancers in a 24-hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon.

John G. Sallee is commander over the military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization with 120 members doing charity work in Lexington including donations to veterans in Wilmore and Hazard.

Ken Speer has led the Immanuel Baptist Church-Lexington Habitat for Humanity build for 16 years. His nominator said that he ”has been an integral part of providing 15 families with safe, decent and affordable homes for their families.“e_SClBBernard ”Bernie“ Lovely has served as chair of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government airport board of directors, a teacher of English literature, a Lexington attorney, president of the Palomar Homeowners Association and chair of the regional coalition group of the Commerce Lexington Board of Directors.

Second Lieutenant Jeffrey Graham who was killed while on duty in Iraq in 2004, graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2002. His awards include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Gretchen Brown became president/CEO of Hospice of the Bluegrass in 1982, when the organization served only Fayette County and had a budget of only $150,000 a year. Today, Hospice of the Bluegrass serves nearly 1,000 dying patients a day in 23 counties throughout Central, Southeastern and Northern Kentucky. It employs more than 600 staff members and coordinates more than 700 volunteers.e_SClBOrie Lebus has served as a Red Cross board director and has donated many volunteer hours, most recently in the Texas flood and California fires.

Kevin Weaver was the key figure in founding the Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League, a non-profit corporation formed to build and operate baseball facilities for children with special needs.

Ginny Ramsey worked as a tax accountant until 1997, when she decided to help people in need. She has established several charitable organizations, including God's Net, which sells books on Amazon for the benefit of the Keep the Heat On program in Lexington, and the Catholic Action Center. Ramsey also serves on multiple charitable boards, including Feed the Hungry and the Christian Appalachian Project.e_SClBDr. David Stevens serves on Lexington's Urban County Council and is credited with helping lead the ban on smoking in public places in Lexington. He serves on the boards for Lexington's airport, the Boy Scouts and the blood center.

Joe Aldy is a volunteer for God's Pantry. After Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with America's Second Harvest in Los Angeles and served as a Red Cross relief worker. He serves as a substitute driver for Meals on Wheels and has worked locally, nationally and internationally on Habit for Humanity projects.

Patricia Randbegan volunteering at St. Joseph Hospital in February, 1989, in the human resources department. Five years ago, Rand became legally blind, but continued to volunteer for the hospital.

Janet Holloway is the co-founder and executive director of Women Leading Kentucky, a non-profit organization committed to helping women become leaders and learn from each other.

Pat Smith and his family: Smith died in the crash of ComAir Flight 5151 in 2006. He was on his way to Gulfport, Miss. to help in the Kentucky-Mississippi Habitat Rebuilding Project there. For the previous 20 years, Smith had worked in Lexington and around the world as a volunteer for habitat. Pat's family — wife Jean, son Brian and daughter Jennifer and their families — continue to work for Habitat projects around the world.

Art Peter III has served on the Bluegrass Red Cross board of directors and as its interim chief executive officer, is a founding member of the Bluegrass Military Officers Association and a member of the Fort Knox Retiree Council. He is also active in senior citizen activities.

Jennifer Drust's activities include fund-raising for leukemia research, serving as a co-chair of a planning committee for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and serving as a pro bono guardian ad litem in Fayette District Court for children in dependency.

Linda Stampf is the vice president of leadership development for Commerce Lexington. She is responsible for the overall operations of the Leadership Lexington, Leadership Lexington Youth and Leadership Central Kentucky programs.

Also nominated: Bluegrass-area bloor donors.