Aurora -- Three local residents who have aided countless youngsters were honored Feb. 9 as the 14th group to be declared Friends of the Schools by the Aurora Schools Foundation.
The honorees -- Connie Nemeth, Ed Jasany and John Wells -- were recognized at the annual banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn in Twinsburg.
ASF President Gary Brookhart pointed out that the trio, like more than two dozen past honorees, were outstanding examples of the volunteerism which has helped to make the school district one of the finest in the state.
Mary McDonald and Dave Nemeth, Connie's husband, spoke about her work with school groups and students.
McDonald explained she met Connie when they both had children at the Aurora Co-op Preschool, and they have worked on many projects together ever since.
"Connie is always late for appointments, but it's for a good reason -- she is doing things for other people," McDonald said. "Since her youngest child is a sixth-grader, she should be around for a lot more years."
Dave said his wife wears the hat of a wife and mom very well despite all of her volunteer tasks. He called her a "master juggler."
He gave a top 10 list of what it's like to be a Nemeth kid. Referring to the fact that Connie is well known in the school community, one item he said the kids would say would be "We feel sorry for Dad; nobody knows him."
The Nemeths moved to Aurora in 1992. They have three children. Connie's volunteerism began with the Aurora Co-op Preschool in 1996, and she has been involved with the PTO, Aurora United Soccer, homecoming activities, the Spring Fling dance and after prom.
Connie thanked the Board of Education and school officials "for allowing me to do what I love." She stressed that volunteers make a difference, and are part of the philosophy that "it takes a village to raise a child."
Ed's son Josh and friend and former School Board member Ann Morrison spoke about Ed.
Josh said he's never been prouder of his dad for being a recipient of a Friend of the Schools award. He talked about growing up, and how his father was always fixing things and helping people.
He said the good deeds his dad did many times were paid back when the Jasanys needed help.
Morrison noted that even during his wife's illness -- she had Multiple Sclerosis which claimed her life in 2011 -- Ed continued to volunteer and help other people.
Ed was in charge of the concession stand at dozens of athletic and other events for the schools over an 11-year period. Morrison told about how setting up the stand for a Friday night football game was an eight-hour task for Ed.
Ed grew up in Maple Heights. He and his wife Carlene had two children, and for his concession stand work he was granted a lifetime membership in the Aurora All-Sports Boosters.
Ed enjoys baking cakes, and for many years baked one for the athletes on awards night.
"I've had a lot of fun times helping out the boosters," Ed said. "And I thank all of the people who helped me. I'd would definitely do it again."
Good friend Phil Quinn and Connie Wells, John's wife, spoke about him.
Quinn coached youth football for many years with John, and Quinn said John taught his own kids a lot.
Quinn jokingly said John used to award players a quarter "for taking out the quarterback, a practice that later was adopted by the NFL [referring to the New Orleans Saints Bountygate scandal].
"When Connie and John were looking to move, they chose Aurora over Hudson, and a lot of Aurorans are glad they did."
Connie said she first saw John performing at a fraternity/sorority event in college, in which he mimicked Tom Cruise's famous rock music scene from the movie "Risky Business." Connie said her mother remarked that John "had nice legs."
She said herself and her children have overcome some health issues "with the help of a fine man."
The Wellses have lived in Aurora for more than 15 years and have five children. John has been active in coaching and helping with youth sporting events, including football and baseball, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was instrumental in establishing the Greenmen Pride organization in 2008, which helped raise money for artificial turf at Veterans Stadium.
John said he was "truly humbled," and credited his now deceased parents with instilling good values in him. He also said he thanks the Lord for "selecting the best wife for me."
Connie has been Aurora High School's cheerleading coach for 13 years.
"It's been a lot of fun working with kids, and seeing them mold into men," he said.
Brookhart told the audience the Friends of the Schools award is a unique one, and the annual banquet is a "classy and enjoyable event." He added, "It is humbling to hear the speakers.
"Despite some trials and tribulations over the years, our volunteers are what's made the Aurora schools go from good to nationally ranked.
Entertainment during dinner and before the presentations was provided by an AHS orchestra ensemble directed by Jason Burdett and the AHS Unaccompanied Minors directed by Sarah Dixon.
The three award recipients were given plaques from the city and School Board, with Councilman John Kudley representing the city and President Gerald Kohanski representing the Board.
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