Des Moines businessman John Ruan is the winner of the prestigious “Iowa Award”, the state’s highest citizen honor. Just 16 people have won the award since its creation in 1948. Ruan is one of Iowa’s greatest philanthropists. He donated 30-million dollars to create the World Food Prize and he contributes millions to medical research that may find a cure for M-S.Ruan began a trucking company 60 years ago with just one truck. It’s now one of the nation’s largest transportation companies. Ruan attributes his success to hard work. He says he found out as a kid that if you didn’t work, you didn’t have any nickels and pennies, so he’s worked all his life.Ruan changed the look of downtown Des Moines by building a skyscraper, then a high-rise hotel across the street. He’s a regular contributor to Republican politicians, but democrat Governor Tom Vilsack was on the committee that picked Ruan to win the award. He says you have to respect what Ruan has done, regardless of your political affiliation.As the “Iowa Award” medal was hung around his neck, Ruan joked that he thought the Iowa award was a cash award. Governor Vilsack quipped that the state was a little bit short of cash. President Herbert Hoover, former Vice President Henry Wallace, “The Music Man” Meredith Willson and Dr. James Van Allen — a University of Iowa physicist — are some of the other winners of the award.
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