“I made a difference to that one,” is the theme behind the Starfish Thrower Awards that will be presented to a number of people and organizations across the state next month, including Buffalo's Jerry Osborn and the Johnson County Wellness Group.
The idea is to make a big difference by making smaller differences everyday, and these local nominees were all deserving, according to Bill Hawley, with the Community Resource Center in Buffalo.
He said there were three nominees from Johnson County: Ginny Dull for the Roger McDaniel Award; Jerry Osborn for community advocacy on substance abuse and mental health issues; and the Johnson County Wellness Group as a community coalition for helping bring about change in substance abuse and mental health issues.
Dull did not win her category, but Osborn and the Wellness Group did win theirs, so Dull, Osborn and Hawley will be in Cheyenne June 16th to accept the awards.
Osborn said he was honored, but a little surprised with the award, and feels he shares it with everyone involved in trying to make a difference.
Hawley said Osborn is the epitome of the type of person the award is meant for.
There are many versions of the Starfish Thrower story, and the following is an example of just one:
“I awoke early just before sunrise to walk by the ocean's edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, faraway movement. I saw a boy, bending and reaching and waving his arms – dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin.
“As I approached, I sadly realized that he was not dancing, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night's tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea.
I asked the boy the purpose of the effort. ‘The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves,’ he replied, ‘When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea.’
“I looked at the vast expanse of beach, stretching in both directions. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. The hopelessness of the boy's plan became clear to me and I pointed out, ‘But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference.’
“He paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, ‘I made a difference to that one.’”