Character Counts in Iowa will present its annual “Robert Ray Pillar of Character Award” for 2011 posthumously to slain Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas. Character Counts spokesperson, Amy Smit, says the Thomas family will accept the award at a ceremony in April.
Smit says the award is named after their chairman, former Iowa Governor Robert Ray, and it is the highest honor the organization gives out to individuals who not only demonstrate good character, but are exceptional role models to Iowans. Thomas was shot and killed by a former student in June of 2009 while working with students in the school weight room. Thomas coached football at Aplington-Parkersburg for 37 years and was instrumental in leading the community back after a tornado destroyed much of the town in 2008.
Smit says its always hard decision to name the winner of the award, but she says it seemed like a natural fit to present Ed Thomas with the award as she says he was a huge role model as a teacher, coach, and member of his community. Smit says the Thomas family showed they type of influence Ed had on them in the way they handled things after the shooting. She says she recently watched the family accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on the ESPY’s and says the courage and grace they showed is a great example of the exceptional character his family has.
Smit says the organization feels it is import to highlight role models. Smit says they believe recognition is an important part in any character education or character development to life the people up who are doing a good job. She says this award lifts someone up who has been prominent in the community, but just as importantly they will start their Iowa Character awards program in December for people to think about role models in their lives.
Past Ray Award winners include Dallas Clark, Shawn Johnson,. Tom Davis, Hayden Fry and Ray. The Thomas family will accept the award on April 15th at a Character Counts benefit. Find out more about the event at: www.CharacterCountsInIowa.org .