Photos by Debra Lawrence, Cr. Photog., CPP Abundant Moments Photography Honorees included (front row, from left) Geneva High, Laura Maxwell, Andrea Allen, Lori Danella, Sharon Owensby (back row, from left) Scott Foster, Sgt. Scott Collins, Lorenzo Harrison, Jeff Morgan, Miles Manney and Charlie Johnson. Not pictured are Dr. Tiffany Nieznajko, Sadie Creemer, Emily Gerber, Officer Todd Feagans and retired Officer Martin Wix.

February 5, 2022

Lee’s Summit CARES hosted its annual Mayor’s Character Breakfast Jan. 27. The popular event included recognition of local individuals who are making a positive impact in the community. Close to 500 people attended the 18th annual event, held at the Pavilion at John Knox Village.

Attendees heard from keynote speaker Joel Goldberg, Kansas City Royals broadcaster as well as a podcaster and author, who talked about the event’s theme, “Building Your Field of Dreams.”

Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird and Lee’s Summit CARES Executive Director Elaine Perilla presented the Lee’s Summit CARES Lifetime Achievement Award, Ethics in Business Award and Reflections of Character Awards, which are based on positive character traits. Susan Coffman, retiring Lee’s Summit CARES program coordinator, was also recognized for her 14 years with the nonprofit organization.

Geneva High, Lifetime Achievement

Geneva High received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mrs. High helped launch Lee’s Summit Social Services in 1992 and served as the nonprofit’s executive director for many years before her retirement. She has also volunteered throughout the community, assisting thousands of local residents in her role at Lee’s Summit Social Services and through her personal commitment to helping others.

Charlie Johnson, Ethics in Business

The Ethics in Business Award went to Charlie Johnson and his business, Landmark2 Skate Center. Mr. Johnson has been active in a number of community organizations including Lee’s Summit R-7 Partners In Education and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee. Landmark2 is a long-time Lee’s Summit CARES Business of Character Sector member.

The Reflections of Character Awards, which are based on character traits, were presented to:

Dr. Tiffany Nieznajko, Generosity, a physician at Children’s Mercy Hospital-East and Sunday School teacher, was recognized for serving others. This included helping a family facing financial difficulty purchase Christmas presents.

Sadie Creemer, Responsibility, Lee’s Summit North High School senior and community volunteer who serves on the Truman Heartland Youth Advisory Council. She also helped create a new biking and hiking trail near Lake Jacomo.

Scott Foster, Cooperation

Scott Foster, Cooperation, who helped found the Southeast Kansas City Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter, which provides beds for children in need.

Laura Maxwell, Citizenship

Laura Maxwell, Citizenship, who organized the 2020 Lee’s Summit Community COVID Challenge, an eight-week food drive resulting in the donation of 21,567 pounds of food for organizations serving families facing financial hardships.

Scott Collins, Integrity

Sgt. Scott Collins, Integrity, of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. He has been recognized by the Jackson County Juvenile Court System as Mentor of the Year and was honored by the Sheriff’s Department for his positive leadership style.

Miles Manney, Appreciation

Miles Manney, Appreciation, an Eagle Scout who organized a service activity to help Foster Adopt Connect by creating bunk beds for foster children.

Jeff Morgan, Respect

Jeff Morgan, Respect, a local plumber who volunteered his skills to help build healthcare facilities in impoverished areas of Haiti that had been impacted by a hurricane.

Sharon Owensby and Lori Danella, Perseverance

Sharon Owensby and Lori Danella, Perseverance, both of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Nutrition Services Department. They worked with other R-7 employees to distribute hundreds of thousands of packaged meals to children during the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown as part of an Emergency Feeding Program.

Lee’s Summit Police Officer Todd Feagans and Retired Officer Martin Wix, Compassion, who helped an elderly couple in need by purchasing materials and doing the work necessary to repair a damaged driveway.

Emily Gerber, Kindness, a former Lee’s Summit North High School student who helped organize a benefit concert at her school to raise funds for mental health services through ReDiscover.

Andrea Allen, Family

Andrea Allen, Family, a Bernard Campbell Middle School teacher, recognized for her giving spirit including hosting individuals unable to make it home for Thanksgiving, organizing support for a colleague fighting breast cancer and helping her fellow teachers transition to virtual learning.

Lorenzo Harrison, Leadership

Lorenzo Harrison, Leadership, Hawthorn Hill Elementary before- and after-school care site coordinator, who helped students organize numerous service projects for charities including food, coin and diaper drives. He also created a foundation to provide scholarships for students.

The Mayor’s Character Breakfast is presented by Lee’s Summit CARES with support from Saint Luke’s East Hospital, Flooring and More and other community sponsors.

Lee’s Summit CARES mobilizes community partners to develop a culture of physical and mental wellness for Lee’s Summit youth and families that inspires positive, healthy choices. For more information, visit, or follow @LeesSummitCARES on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.