MALTA – Ken Doubler could not help but recall the special experience of launching Tribute to Heroes during the 10th anniversary of the event Thursday.
But for the first time in the program’s 10-year history, Doubler was not an observer, he was an honoree.
Doubler, who was recognized for his work with Kishwaukee Kiwanis and Ben Gordon Center, as well as his role in launching the Tribute to Heroes event, said the program is the most special event in the county because of all the people involved.
“I wouldn’t doubt it goes another 10 or 20 years,” he said. “We have to feel real good about it.”
Nearly 200 people gathered at Kishwaukee College Jenkins Conference Center on Thursday to celebrate and honor community heroes throughout the county and support the Three Fires Council Boy Scouts of America at the 10th annual Tribute to Heroes event.
Honorees included Doubler, Michael and Jenelle Muzzillo of Sandwich, Dennis Rehn of Kirkland and Robert Coulter of DeKalb.
Coulter, who was honored for his more than 30 years in military roles and lifelong dedication to the Scouts, said he never expected or believed he was deserving of such an award and said it was a result of living his life on a few core values.
“I have some things I hold in high value one of them is my family, one of them is my country and one of them is the youth of America,” he said.
Rehn, a Kirkland farmer who was recognized for decades of service with groups such as Lions Club, townships, historical societies and churches, told the young people in attendance to just remember to give back to those who help them along the way.
The Muzzillos, who have a combined 88 years of service at Sandwich Community Hospital – now Valley West Hospital – said the honor was a reflection of the hospital staff that has a work ethic second to none and was the reason they stayed at the hospital for so long.
“This award is theirs as much as it is ours,” Michael Muzzillo said. “They work diligently day and night … I could go on and on talking about them for hours.”
The stories from the heroes resonated with the scouts, which is one of the main reasons scout leaders said they wanted the troops involved.
Barry Overmann, a 16-year-old scout from DeKalb, said the Tribute to Heroes event is always a good learning experience and has motivated him to strive for the same level of community service as he gets older.
“It’s inspiring to see how other people have succeeded,” Overmann said. “It’s very important to me.”
Ron Wentzell, a Three Fires Council representative and co-founder of the event, thanked those in attendance for supporting the Scouts through the event and keeping Scouting relevant in DeKalb County.
Wentzell touted the strong numbers of Three Fires Council, noting it serves four counties including 1,800 Scouts in DeKalb County with more than 400 adult leaders and volunteers.
And it is the community heroes that were honored that continue to set the example for those 1,800 Scouts, he said.
“Without them DeKalb County isn’t such a great place,” Wentzell said. “We’re very proud of them.”
The event raises money for the Scouts through donations, sponsorships and the $50 admission tickets, which also included pre-ceremony refreshments.