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#WhoPowersYou 2017 Winners

Published On: December 13, 2017

Thank you for your dedicated support with the 2017 #WhoPowersYou Contest! This year, 127 local heroes were nominated as outstanding contributors to their communities. We are extremely proud of all these individuals who exemplify the cooperative difference.

We are honored to announce the following winners:

  • Grand Prize: Bob Bardwell of Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch, People’s Energy Cooperative
  • Second Place: Mike & Stacey Simmons of The Lord’s Pantry, Holmes-Wayne Electric Cooperative
  • Third Place: Mary Rio of Clothing Our Kids, Delaware Electric Cooperative, Inc.
  • Honorable Mention: Chase Marvil of The Inspiring Project, Delaware Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Bob Bardwell

This year’s grand prize winner’s motto is, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.” And Bob’s impact in the community couldn’t hold truer.

Bob’s dream to make a spiritual, social and emotional impact began in 1976 when he established a faith-based camp. What began as a simple lodge, was transformed by this inspired paraplegic into a fully operational ranch that provides physically challenged children and adults an opportunity to participate in a variety of sports in a supportive environment with mentoring from Paralympic athletes. The ranch also sponsors ‘Operation Welcome Home,’ a series of faith-based weekends that provide encouragement, hope and inspiration to active military, veterans and their families.

These great programs are the direct result of Bob’s vision and tenacity in architecting and securing donations to build a conference center, movie theater, chapel, horse riding arena, mini golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, stables, seven cabins, 27 rooms, a recreation center, zip line and a $5 million, handicap-accessible lodge called the Miracle Lodge, which took seven years, 45,000 volunteer hours of labor, donations from fourteen states and contributions from over 1,000 people to construct.

The ranch and its programs are free to participants thanks to donations from businesses, organizations, and individuals. Over 50 retreats, serving more than 1,000 families, have been held since the Miracle Lodge opened.

Mike and Stacy Simmons

Inspired by the community needs, Mike and Stacy Simmons have given new meaning to “taking care of their own” by opening the Lord’s Pantry to make an impact on children, families and the elderly who don’t have access to basic needs.

The Lord’s Pantry opened in March 2017 with four volunteers and has expanded to more than 50 volunteers, many of whom are financially or physically challenged themselves. With the goal of showing love and compassion while preserving dignity, it has distributed over 120,000 pounds of food to families who do not have enough income to meet their family’s needs.

One goal for the pantry is to look and feel like a grocery store while supporting human connections with volunteers directing traffic, assisting with loading vehicles and taking time to sit and talk with families. The Lord’s pantry also collaborates with a local clothing donation agency and initiated the “Back-Pack” program to feed children in need. The Lord’s Pantry now provides weekend meal boxes for 25-30 students. In addition, they prepare food for elderly shut-ins once a month.

Mike and Stacey’s humility is just a small part of their tireless effort to inspire and breathe life into a community looking for hope. The continual vision of The Lord’s Pantry is to change the lives of those with whom they come in contact, and inspire the entire community.


Mary Rio

After learning about a young elementary student who only had one set of clothing, Mary was driven to improve the lives of children in Sussex County. In 2012, Mary founded Clothing Our Kids (COK) and operated the newly founded organization out of her home with the help of a few friends. Through her efforts, COK has flourished into an award winning 501(c)(3) charity with over 150 volunteers and a permanent volunteer center.

COK’s goal is to assist young adults with an equal start in their early education and help them become successful students; in essence, offering an opportunity for every child to achieve excellence. COK relies entirely on donations of clothing, money or grants to make this possible. The organization has formed partnerships with businesses, houses of worship, social and community organizations and individuals who support the cause by either donating funds or organizing a clothing drive.

Mary’s passion has provided 11,525 children with 61,282 items of clothing – and counting – in five short years. Mary has indeed made Sussex County, DE a better place to live for children in need and has inspired 150 volunteers to follow her lead.


Chase Marvil

Chase has made not only the community a better place, but the world a better place through “The Inspiring Project,” a now global organization to help end the stigma of bullying and suicide. At 20, Chase has impacted nearly 100,000 people from at least 8 different countries.

Chase has not only inspired others through his social media messages, but has also donated money to organizations that help their cause. He holds annual “Impact Nights” at the local library where he invites teens and children to free their mind and see that there are people that care about them. Chase has been named the National Teenager of the Year for 2016, an MTV trailblazer, and has won countless awards including the Governors Volunteer Serve Award for 2017.

Chase lives off of the motto; “You do not have to be anyone in particular to create a huge impact on life.”


Congratulations to all these inspirational winners and nominees who are amplifying the power of human connections. To discover more about the winner and view all entries, please visit whopowersyou.com.

Then be on the lookout for future stories and videos throughout the year that highlight these honorable stories.

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