MANSFIELD - Richland County more hopeful about the future than ever before thanks to a group of dedicated crusaders, with this year's recipients of the 10 Under 40 awards leading the way.
"We have between us a crusader mentality, and it's because of who we are. We're doing work that matters," said Tim Hilterman a 2015 10 Under 40 awardee on Tuesday morning.
"There's a common thread with people in this room; if you're here, you've realized that you're doing something that's bigger than yourselves, and the way you've plugged in and pursued excellence in aggregate is what makes Richland County great."
Hilterman's inspirational words came at the 2016 10 Under 40 awards hosted by the Richland Community Development Group at Kingwood Center Garden's newly renovated Carriage House. It was there that 10 new young professionals were honored as emerging leaders in the community.
The winners of the 2016 10 Under 40 awards were Alicia Bailey of the Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Don Bryant of Mansfield City Council and Mansfield City Schools, Dr. Bryan DeBolt of OhioHealth Mansfield, Cristen Gilbert of the Mansfield Area YMCA, Jessica Gribben of The Holden Agency, Brian Hamilton of Hamilton Insurance, Clayton Herold of Richland Bank, Jerry Holden of The Holden Agency, Clint Knight of Spherion Staffing, and Chelsie Thompson of The Renaissance Theatre.
These first-time awards are presented to young professionals who have made a significant impact on Richland County's businesses, organizations and community.
"Don't let someone tell you that the stuff you're doing here isn't the best in the world, because it is," Hilterman said. "We're always pushing because we care, in aggregate. We're crusaders. And that's the secret to this place."
Fortunately, these leaders are not alone in the community. According to Dan DeVille, chairman of the RCDG Board of Directors, 85 percent of past recipients of the 10 Under 40 award still live and work in Richland County.
"The other 15 percent have gone on to take other promotions that have taken them outside of our area, which is also very fantastic when you think about the work they've been able to do here in our area," DeVille said.
The aggregate work of the 10 professionals honored on Tuesday is impressive. Between the awardees is an expansive list of extracurricular activities, volunteerism, board memberships, public service and professional growth.
Most notably, each awardee kept their sights set on Richland County's bright future and how they hoped to contribute.
"The impact we make here is so much great than in other areas, it's tangible," said awardee Chelsie Thompson. "There is so much potential here and we need to keep building on that."
"You start getting involved and you don't realize it can take you places," said awardee Dr. Bryan DeBolt. "There are amazing people here. Being able to be some sort of light in what some people view as a dark place is an honor."
Many nominees mentioned their motivator in making Richland County a better place to live is their children and the youth of the community.
"I believe our children are the future of our community, and helping encourage them is what I believe in," said awardee Alicia Bailey.
"I'm deeply humbled, honored and thankful that we can come together to move opportunities forward for future generations," said awardee Don Bryant. "People at the local level matter most."
However, the most common theme running amongst this year's awardees is they don't "mail it in," according to Hilterman.
"Bring it, baby. Strap in, game on. There's stuff to do," he said. "And there are people on the other side of what you're doing that matter. These nominees are doing something that matters."