GREENFIELD — There were lots of laughs and even some tears Thursday night at the Community Walk of Fame Awards Celebration.

As Skip Kuker took the stage to accept an award, attendees of the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce event applauded the man who has managed to lead the county’s economic development council while battling cancer.

The chamber champion award, presented to Kuker, honors dedicated chamber volunteers. Judges found the award especially fitting for Kuker, who has remained a strong community supporter despite personal struggles.

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“Cancer may be coursing through my body and may have a hold on me, but my love for this community is undying,” he told the crowd. “I plan to be here for as long as humanly possible.”

As he returned to his seat, he received a standing ovation from the award celebration’s attendees, and a hug from Mayor Chuck Fewell, who was also nominated for the award.

Kuker was one of 20 community leaders honored at the event, which serves two purposes: to highlight community members who shine and to raise money to fund a variety of chamber events.

Other honorees were:

Mark Griffin, Greenfield Banking Co.: Chamber Service Award

Sara and Tom Joyner, Joyner Homes: Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Jim Peters, Love In the Name of Christ: Nonprofit Community Service of the Year

Scott Kleine, Project Lead the Way Team at Greenfield-Central High School: Community Hero Award

Elden DeJarnett and David Nickel, DNA Consulting: Businessman of the Year

Kelley Holden, Cynthia’s Hallmark, Businesswomen of the Year

It was a momentous award for Holden, whose family opened Cynthia’s Hallmark in Greenfield in 1985. When they opened in Greenfield, the company’s largest single retail store, Hallmark officials told them it would never work; Greenfield was simply too small, Holden said.

Some 30 years later, the store is still thriving. Her mother, who died in 2007, would be proud, Holden said.

“We’re really honored to be a part of this community,” she said.

Wayne Addison, chief probation officer of the Hancock County Probation Department, served as emcee for the event.

He joked the awards celebration was similar to an Academy Awards night, and to prepare, he went to the movie theater and saw “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“…Fifty shades of red is what my face looked like,” he said. “I didn’t go to any more movies.”

The annual event typically includes a silent auction, entertainment and dinner, but this year, the chamber chose to focus on the community awards, opting out of entertainment for the evening, though Addison had attendees laughing throughout the night.

Retta Livengood, president of the chamber, was pleased with the event committee’s decision to put the emphasis on those who make Hancock County a better place to live and work.

“Celebrating their achievements was so much fun,” she said.

The money raised from the event helps the chamber fund various events and programs, she said, allowing the chamber to be the best resource possible for businesses and organizations in the community.

“We’re thrilled for all the nominees,” she said. “They’re such a wonderful representation of our community.”

Award nominees

Chamber Service Award

Mark Griffin*

Tina Gruell

Alana Lashaway

Chamber Champion Award

Chuck Fewell

Skip Kuker*

Carrie Stidham

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Hey Cafe

Husk

Joyner Homes*

Businesswoman of the Year

Kelley Holden*

Frances Hull

Diana Parker

Businessman of the Year

Elden DeJarnett and David Nickel*

Terry Edon

Steve McCleerey

Non-profit Community Service of the Year

Hancock County Arts Council

Hancock LINK

Love In the Name of Christ*

Community Hero

Robb Farris

Tom Ferguson

Scott Kleine *

*Indicates award-winner

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.