This past month your Community Foundation had the honor of announcing the honorees for our 22nd annual Toast to Our Towns Gala on Oct. 14

The Toast to Our Towns Gala is an annual event where Truman Heartland Community Foundation celebrates and recognizes some of the people who make our Eastern Jackson County Community such a great place. The evening is a way for the community to honor those who go above and beyond the call of duty to enhance and improve the lives of those in our community.

Our first recipients are Brad and Sandy Cox, who will receive the Heartland Humanitarians of the Year Award. Brad and Sandy are Lee’s Summit residents who have served the community selflessly and passionately for more than 30 years. In addition to running their five businesses: Langsford Funeral Home, Langsford Pre-Arrangement, Langsford Development, The Emaline Ballroom, and Five Petals Floral, Brad and Sandy serve on numerous boards and commissions in Eastern Jackson County. Some of the initiatives that Sandy and Brad have been involved with include: the first private hospice room at John Knox Village, as well as funding for the hospice wing. Sandy was a founder of the "Boo Ball," the largest fundraising event in the St. Luke's Health System, and they have ongoing involvement with initiatives for Powell Gardens, Rotary, Lee's Summit Parks and Recreation and John Knox Village. They are often sought out to provide leadership for important civic projects in Lee’s Summit.

Our second recipient is Cable-Dahmer Auto Group, receiving the Heartland Corporate Citizen of the Year Award. Under the leadership of owner Carlos Ledezma, Cable-Dahmer Auto Group has grown to be the second largest automotive dealership group in Kansas City and employs more than 400. Cable-Dahmer is focused on making a positive change in the community by donating financially and through volunteerism by leadership and staff. More than 50 organizations have received donations and volunteer support from the Cable-Dahmer, showing that compassionate leadership can have a big impact.

Finally, Ron Finke, founder of Stewardship Capital, will receive the Paul M. Thomson Professional Advisor of the Year Award. Ron utilizes his extensive professional knowledge to present charitable options that benefit the needs of his clients as well as the needs of the community. A number of his clients have established Donor Advised Funds or Scholarship funds at THCF to enable them to achieve their charitable giving goals. Ron is an active member of the community with many organizations such as theIndependence Chamber of Commerce; Independence School District, Board of Directors (1986-98); Independence Rotary Club, past President; Missouri Bar Association; Truman Heartland Community Foundation (2011-16); Million Dollar Round Table, Life Member; and Noland Road Baptist Church, Bible Teacher and Deacon.

We are also pleased that seven area mayors will also be recognizing their Citizen of the Year at our Toast to Our Towns celebration. In my column next month I will provide some highlights on this important group of honorees being recognized for their service to their community.

Philanthropy at its core is about the act of selfless giving without expecting anything in return. The honorees for this year’s gala live their lives in the service of others, working to improve the communities they love dearly. We are pleased to be able to honor these people and others like them knowing that their example will inspire others to follow in their footsteps. We hope you make plans to join us at our Toast to Our Towns celebration on Oct. 14.

– Phil Hanson is president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, based in Independence.