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South Dakota Businesses, Workers Honored at 2016 Governor’s Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2016

Contact: Dan Hoblick, Department of Human Services, 605-773-6463


South Dakota Businesses, Workers Honored at 2016 Governor’s Awards


PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard presented the 2016 Governor’s Awards today to South Dakota businesses and workers who have made significant contributions  in 2016 to the employment of people with disabilities.


Governor’s Awards were presented to the following recipients:


Eric Bowers of Spearfish has been a part of the Spearfish community since the 1990s and has worked for the City of Spearfish for 20 years. In his free time, Bowers volunteers at the Spearfish Art Center. He is involved in the People First Group of the Northern Hills Training Center and South Dakota Advocates for Change. He volunteers at the local Humane Society, and with the Special Olympics. Bowers desire to live a full life has earned him the 2016 Outstanding Citizen with a Disability Award.


Aaron Ready of Rapid City was born with a hereditary condition causing Retinitis Pigmentosa and hearing loss. Ready has a strong work ethic and sought a career in collision repair. With help from the Division of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, Ready attended Western Dakota Technical Institute and now works at Rick’s Body Shop. Ready’s persistence, strong work ethic and talent have earned him the Outstanding Employee with a Disability Award.


NAPA Auto Parts of Watertown is committed to employing a diverse workforce, and they have been recognized as the Outstanding Private Employer (Small Employer Category). The staff at NAPA Auto Parts realizes that cultivating a work environment that celebrates differences leads to greater success for the company, customers, and employees. NAPA Auto Parts has had a lasting impact on individuals with disabilities employed there. NAPA has provided individuals the opportunity to learn valuable work skills and experience what employment adds to a person’s life.


Nyberg’s Ace Hardware of Sioux Falls has been serving the Sioux Falls area since 1958. Nyberg’s was today’s recipient of the Outstanding Private Employer (Large Employer Category). Since 1958, Nyberg’s has demonstrated their vision and commitment to utilize the talents and abilities of all people from their community. Nyberg’s is an employer that assists their employees to achieve physical, social and emotional balance, while providing the customer an excellent experience.


Cindy Kirschman of Aberdeen has spent the majority of her life and career providing students with disabilities opportunities to learn, grow and explore options in their lives. For that reason, Kirschman has been selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Transition Services Award. Kirschman has spent 23 years in various roles educating students with disabilities. Her connections throughout the state are endless and invaluable to assisting youth as they transition from school to adulthood.


Strider Sports International Inc. was formed in 2007. Since its inception, Strider Sports International Inc. has donated over $600,000 - cash and bikes - to organizations that serve children and adults, including individuals with disabilities. Their efforts have promoted opportunities for people of all ages to play and interact in a more inclusive setting. For this, Strider Sports International Inc. received the Distinguished Service Award.


The 2016 Governor’s Awards ceremony was co-sponsored by the Boards of Vocational Rehabilitation, Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Statewide Independent Living Council and the South Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS).


About DHS


The South Dakota Department of Human Services’ mission is to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities, in partnership with its stakeholders, through the programs and services offered by its divisions. Learn more by visiting the department’s website, dhs.sd.gov.