SAMMI awards honor local spirit

March 15, 2010

By Christopher Huber

New: March 15, 3:32 p.m.

Before Karen Bach, the 2009 Learning Promotion awardee, could announce the 2010 winner, Leslie Spero’s picture appeared to music on the giant screen. An accidental push of a button had prematurely given the secret away early.

It didn’t hamper the mood, though.

The audience let out a surprised laugh as Spero, a theater teacher at Eastside Catholic School, excitedly approached the stage to accept her award.

Spero was one of 11 winners at the 2010 SAMMI Awards Ceremony at Mary, Queen of Peace Church March 13. She used her speech to compare the mishap to her life — like everything else in her life, the surprise was given away early, she said.

This year’s SAMMI Awards featured local youth performers, a local master of ceremonies in Chris Cashman, and dedicated, compassionate awardees.

“You got a piece of the city in every aspect of the show,” said Cary Young, SAMMI executive director.

2010 was also the first time in the awards’ nine-year history to have a tie. Caroline Brown and Angela Kennedy tied for the Spirit of Sammamish award.

“The time and talent they give the community is truly a gift,” 2009 awardee Dellann Elliott said about the Brown and Kennedy.

Kennedy, president of Eastside Baby Corner, Cub Scout leader and Robotics team coach, said she did not expect to receive the award.

“I was surprised,” she said. “It’s fun to be able to share with somebody who does so much for the community.”

Brown credited the overall spirit of service among Sammamish residents that led her to give back and get involved. She also attributed her drive to help to the welcoming sense she felt when she and her family moved here in 2006.

“It truly is wonderful,” she said. “I’m just truly honored.”

The evening opened with a series of rock songs from guitarists Robert Auerbach and Logan Krulish, including “Stairway to Heaven.” Cashman lightened the mood even more, making a grand entrance as if he were a boxing champion entering the arena before a big fight.

In her speech, SAMMI Business Award winner Gail Michelman highlighted the importance of volunteerism in Sammamish, capturing the overall sense of the event. Marty Budzius, a longtime Sammamish resident and Founders Award recipient, summed up the evening.

“I feel extremely blessed to live in such a community as Sammamish,” he said. “I am honored, blessed and prvilaged.”

2010 SAMMI award winners

  • Caroline Brown and Angela Kennedy (Spirit of Sammamish)
  • Marty Budzius (Founders)
  • Adam Gross (Arts)
  • Leslie Spero (Learning Promotion)
  • Kristin and Brendon Lynch (Courage)
  • Karen Skoog (Youth Advocate)
  • Jamie Eide (Teen Spirit)
  • Sonya Ahuja (Trevor Price)
  • Secret Scholarship Fund: Alec Baer, Arend Brookmate, Billy Dimlow and Brooks Meadowcraft (Unsung Hero)
  • Gail Michelman (Business)

Reporter Christopher Huber can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 242, or

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