Tonganoxie attorney wins statewide award from Kansas Sampler Foundation
Local residents and neighboring business owners rolled in unannounced Thursday afternoon to Kelly Law Office.
But they were part of a big announcement.
Walking in behind them were Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe with the Kansas Sampler Foundation.
Penner and Rowe presented Kelly with a We Kan! award as part of a surprise presentation.
Kansas Sampler Foundation, an Inman-based non-profit, has been choosing ten recipients a year since 1993 to show appreciation for dedicated work in helping preserve and sustain rural culture.
Kelly’s award had the words “All about community” engraved on a round plate, which Elk Falls Potter created.
“We first got to know Keyta when she was co-director of the Kansas Sampler Festival in 2010-2011,” Penner said. “She helped provide a quality environment for communities statewide to promote and we were grateful. “She also contributes to the betterment of downtown Tonganoxie and to the historic performer and storytelling communities as well. We were proud to present her with this well-deserved award.”
Kelly said she had seen on Facebook that Penner would be in Bonner Springs for an event later that day and thought about trying to connect with her for lunch, but figured it might be tough to schedule with an evening event.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” Kelly said.
Thursday’s presentation also came with another perk — homemade chocolate chip cookies from Penner’s mother, V’Lee.
She thought something was definitely up when Jan Topping, who is heavily involved in the Sampler Foundation and also worked with Kelly when she headed the festival in 2010 and 2011 when it was in Leavenworth, walked into her office Thursday
“I think it’s a really great honor,” Kelly said. “It’s a statewide award, which is pretty amazing. “I know they put a lot of thought into it each year as to who to give the awards out to. I was pleasantly surprised that they thought I was deserving of it.
“I’m not sure I am. The last few years I haven’t been all that involved in the community because of all of the stuff going on.”
Kelly was referring to health issues that she and her husband, Michael, endured in recent years. Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer and Michael was in search for some time of a matching kidney for a transplant.
The couple have recovered, Keyta after her cancer battle and Michael after receiving a kidney in February.
Keyta has been on various committees in Tonganoxie, including one that brought murals to a downtown pocket park.
In addition to Kelly, two other people have received a 2019 We Kan! Award from the Kansas Sampler Foundation.
Other recipients so far are Helen Dobbs, St. Francis (Dedicated Doer) and Michelle Crisler (Quietly Delivering Quality). Seven more awards will be presented this year.
To see a list of all We Kan! award winners go to kansassampler.org.