Health care workers honored for selfless service

This article appeared in the June 2021 edition of the Chickasaw Times

Medals4Mettle awards for COVID response

ADA, Okla. - More than five dozen Chickasaw Nation Department of Health staff members were recently recognized for their mettle – the ability to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way – during the last year.

Governor Bill Anoatubby led the May 14 ceremony in the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center courtyard. Health care workers were honored for their commitment, perseverance and essential role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You’ve been fearless in the face of this disease,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “You’ve been dependable and caring. You’ve had unwavering resolve. Because of you, the Chickasaw Nation remains unconquered. We are here to celebrate you today because you are an inspiration to others.

“You are doing an amazing job during this pandemic, and we honor you for serving Chickasaws and other First Americans with diligence, duty and expertise in the most of difficult of times,” he said.

Medals4Mettle has been awarding donated marathon, half-marathon and triathlon finishers’ medals for the past 15 years. The medals go to children and adults who face life-threatening disease with mettle and resolve, Karl Ahlgren, Medals4Mettle (M4M) Tulsa chapter coordinator said.

In the midst of the pandemic, Medals4Mettle is also awarding the medals to those who have selflessly risked their own lives to support and care for those affected by COVID19.

“It’s ‘Medals for Mettle’,” Mr. Ahlgren said. “Another word for ‘mettle’ is courage and you have shown so much courage during this pandemic. What we’re saying today is ‘we’re cheering you on. We’re praying for you. You are so appreciated and you are so much valued.’”

Dr. Kathleen Elliot, with Medals4Mettle, also participated in the ceremony.

“Because of you, because of the choices you made to go into this health care profession, you have now become not only a provider of health services, but people who are saving lives and who are making a difference every single day,” Dr. Elliot said.

The Chickasaw Nation partnered with Medals4Mettle, a national charitable organization, to present the “Extra Mile” Award for Extraordinary Pandemic Service to 64 individual health care workers. The award recipients were nominated by their peers and leaders.

Chickasaw Nation Department of Health Deputy Secretary Kevin Meeks announced the medal recipients. Those honored include:

Virginia (Ginny) Austin

Saundra Holder

Shannon Young

Jim Thomas

Toni Ebanks

Gloria Gutierrez

Katrina Lewis

Heather Summers

Seth Morgan

Joy Strandridge

Rikki Navarro

Leah Delozier

Lauren LittleAxe

Tayler House

Marcy Davis

Jamie Humphreys

Mallory Henderson

Kelly Dalton

Teresia Terry

Justic Easley

Ashley Haines

Kevin Chapman

Ashley Mayo

Sassy Stoksberry

Rebecca Hankins

Zachary Wilmoth

Tammy Preast

Charles “Lance” Bowen

Brandie Montanelli

Jerry Muzar

David Manuel

Randy Steers

Susan Stark

Ross Clark

Amber Cranford

John Hudspeth

Hillary Treat

John Schoofield

Garet Ballagh

Samantha Mims

Tayler Berry

Chris Read

Roy Gower

Tera Simpson

Brett Gowdy

Bobby Freeman

Tracy Williamson

Louise Gaddis

Wade Snodgrass

Landon Trimble

Jaden Mitchell

Jennifer Grant

Jamie Rudd

Jennifer James

Sue Gastineau

Judy Pickle

LeeAnn Swindle

Jillian Peters

Devin Lackey

Rhoni Elliott

Laura Long

Kristie Guttery

Christi Whitmire

Angela Smith

The award ceremony capped off National Hospital Week.

About Medals 4 Mettle

Founded in 2005, Medals4Mettle (M4M) is a national 501c3 organization. Its mission is to “unite endurance athletes with all compassionate human beings to create a new internal network of compassion: kindness without borders.”

Finishers’ medals from marathons, triathlons, half marathons and triathlons are donated by endurance athletes and restrung with M4M lanyards to recognize individuals who are running a unique and difficult race, often with an unknown finish line.

Medals4Mettle had awarded more than 60,000 medals to recipients across the world. In 2020, M4M expanded its mission during the pandemic and has awarded thousands of medals to front line workers.