Kansas Audio-Reader Network celebrates 40th year

Oct. 11, 2011, marked the 40th anniversary of the Kansas Audio-Reader Network, a reading service for print-disabled citizens across Kansas and western Missouri.

The organization’s annual banquet, which honors volunteers for their years of service, was even more special this year due to special guest Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who presented volunteers with certificates of appreciation. Accompanying the chancellor was her husband, Shade, who reads for the organization.

Several dozen volunteers were honored Tuesday night at Maceli’s, including Audio-Reader’s first volunteer, Eleanor Symons, who has been reading since the beginning, Oct. 11, 1971.

Symons received a standing ovation for her 40 years of service from the staff and fellow volunteers as well as a plaque and a hug from the chancellor.

“It was a wonderful event, and I felt very much honored,” Symons said.

Others honored for their years of service:

Five years: Marilyn Epp, Tom Goetz, Thomas Howe, Sonia Juola, Rebecca Jordan, Barbara Paris, Samantha Snyder and Bill Vermooten, of Lawrence; David Dunford, Desoto; Merilee Dymacek, Eudora; Jack Ferguson, Independence, Mo.; Steve Gladstone, Overland Park; Jonathan Haynes, Wamego; Mike Lewis, Lee’s Summit, Mo.; and Keith Sevedge, Lenexa.

Ten years: Jeff Blair, Nancy Colyer, Susan Hoefer, Sarah Kanning, Cindy Koester, Jo Anne Kready, Molly Mulloy, Jane Pennington, Cindy Penzler, Mary Ann Saunders and Jane Tedder, Lawrence; Barbara Schountz, Pittsburg.

Fifteen years: Pat Ashley-Hiscock, Geri Fordice, Don Frey, Bob Gent, Jackie Hilton, Lawrence; Carolyn Brauer, Kansas City, Mo.; Lucy Bednekoff, Helen Kriegsman, Sheila Marque, Ruth Short, Rosalie Talley, Pittsburg.

Twenty years: Randy Austin, Carol Jones, Kris Shields, Rob Tabor, Susan Tabor, Jim Taylor, Thelma Taylor, Lawrence.

Thirty years: Calder Pickett, Lawrence; Harold Asner, Overland Park.

Forty years: Eleanor Symons, Lawrence.

An additional highlight of the banquet included the reading of a proclamation that came from Mayor Aron Cromwell, who proclaimed Oct. 11, 2011, as “Audio-Reader Day.”  Volunteer Harlan Roedel also read a poem he wrote as a tribute to Audio-Reader and its volunteers.

Offered as a free public service by the University of Kansas, Audio-Reader is a reading and information service for blind and print-disabled individuals throughout Kansas and western Missouri. Audio-Reader offers print-disabled persons the opportunity for greater personal independence by providing access to the printed word.

For more information about Audio-Reader, visit reader.ku.edu or call (785) 864-4600.  Services are available free of charge, but donations are welcome.