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Mary Ann Umbel

I am not certain that I can sum this up in 500 words of less but Mary Ann Umbel is an extraordinary woman who, having suffered the loss of her only son (2 daughters survive) in a tragic golf cart accident, turned the horrible loss into a passion for helping others. Despite the ongoing heartache of losing Timmy, Mary Ann began to collect cans to create a scholarship fund for athletes in memory of Tim.

Her efforts have become well-known in the small, rural area in which we live and many support her by donating their own collected cans. So much so, that the scholarship recipient number has increased. Not only does Mary Ann support our school and community in this way but she is a staff member of one of our high schools, serving as a paraprofessional. No matter what the event, Mary Ann is the first to offer assistance.

She never asks for anything in return. Her selfless devotion to students, staff, community and charity oftentimes goes unrecognized while we all realize how much she really does. Whether it is a school-based staff recognition week/dinner, church event, sports team concession stand, admission to sporting event, etc. she is there helping and supporting in whatever way she can. Speaking of "can," she always asks for the cans afterwards so that the Tim Umbel Scholarship can perpetuate the memory of her son and turn this sad loss into never-ending good for others.

There are other community events in which she participates in memory of Tim. These also help support Mary Ann's work - from raffles to a dinner sponsored by Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, where the accident occurred while Timmy was working. The school also has a trail in honor of Tim and named after him.

The work that Mary Ann does and the model that she establishes through her ongoing work are great examples of how one person can turn loss into a cause. More importantly, her example is one that students see on a daily basis and one that extends beyond the school walls. She is truly a hero in that respect - showing others selfless service and always with a smile.

Through everything, Mary Ann has remained a devoted wife to her husband Rick, a loving mother to her two grown daughters, and a devoted grandmother to her grandchildren.

I have known her for years and cannot think of a more deserving individual when it comes to some recognition for her everyday heroism. She would not want the recognition because that is how she is BUT if she could be recognized, it would be a small repayment for the hours of her life that she has devoted to others.


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