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Each year, the Cedar Valley Character Counts Committee recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations with Champions of Character awards. These recipients exemplify the Character Counts Six Pillars – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

This year’s honorees are:

Maddie Gallagher

Youth Citizen of Character

Maddie Gallagher is a sixth-grade student at Orchard Hill Elementary School in Cedar Falls who arrived as a new student in third grade. Maddie’s former teacher, Rachelle Michael, said Maddie pushed herself out of her comfort zone to meet new people and play at recess. She made it her mission to befriend a classmate with autism.

Maddie also has served on various student leadership committees and helps with numerous projects around school. She volunteers to help younger students with reading and math and leads assemblies and fundraisers. She made a presentation to education majors at the University of Northern Iowa, explaining how important their roles will be in their future students’ lives.

Lonnie Moore

Pursuing Victory with Honor

Lonnie Moore is a Waterloo West High School business education teacher and head football coach. Nominator Anthony Pappas, West High director of athletics, said Moore is one of his most trustworthy coaches and has “great integrity.”

Moore has coached football for 18 years. He’s also coached basketball, baseball and track during his career. He was a coach for the Iowa Football Shrine Game and has been a volunteer coach with Waterloo’s Leisure Services, Junior Wahawks basketball, Waterloo’s seventh grade Blackhawks traveling football team, the Team Iowa eighth grade football team and the Iowa Prep Girls traveling basketball team. He has been awarded the District 5 Coach of the Year and the Ed Thomas Coach of the Week. Other community service includes the Waterloo Letter Carrier Annual Food Drive, the remodel/construction project of the Dan Ralston U.S. military soldier house and more.

Geof Grimes

Adult Citizen of Character

Geof Grimes has spent a lifetime serving the Cedar Valley, both in his professional life as an architect and as a volunteer.

Current and past involvements include membership and leadership positions with the Cedar Valley United Way, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, Black Hawk County Gaming Commission, Waterloo Community Playhouse, Hawkeye Community College Foundation Board, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, Iowa State University Alumni Board, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Waterloo Community Foundation, Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Waterloo Lions Club and more.

Candace Nardini

Adult Citizen of Character

Candace Nardini and her husband, Jay, are longtime residents of Waterloo. She works for Prairie Lakes Church and is an active volunteer for several organizations.

Nardini has been involved with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Black Hawk County for the past 25 years. She also has been a member of the state ACS Leadership Board the past three years and currently serves as chair.

She volunteers time and resources at Prairie Lakes Church, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, Hospitality House and the Take Back Waterloo organization.

In addition to her numerous ACS awards, she has received the 2011 Channel 9 Show You Care Award for Public Service and the 2014 Covenant and Sartori Foundation-Community Service-Hero Among Us Award.

Jill White

Adult Citizen of Character

Jill White is a facilitator and advocate through Allen Women’s Health and the Together for Youth organization. Nominator Becky Lins said White is “positive, upbeat and invests in the young lives of our students and has had an incredible ripple effect of positive impact.”

White has facilitated Girls Circle small groups at Peet Junior High School. She is “relatable and so approachable as our students have shared some really hard things with her and she handles it with the utmost care and attention,” Lins said.

Andrea Christopher

Educator of Character

Andrea Christopher is the principal at Orchard Hill Elementary School. Nominator Amy Kohlhaas, education consultant at Central Rivers, said Andrea believes in students’ social and academic abilities, as well as their worth. She offers opportunities for student leadership throughout the school.

Christopher teamed with the building leadership team to begin a literacy initiative, with the entire building rallying around a literacy workshop innovation that resulted in increased student achievement scores on Iowa Assessment.

She also is teaming with Rotary Club and a local construction crew as they work to renovate and update the school. She has invited them to school events and included them in the learning environment, where students bring treats, wave and thank the construction workers.

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