Kurt Grunwald and Steve Mau often don’t get the credit they deserve for the work they do to help their La Crescent neighbors, some of their friends say.
But that changed Sunday, at least for one night, when the two La Crescent stalwarts were named as the 2018 All-Star award winners at the 17th annual Lions/Rotary Super Community event.
Over 100 people attended the ceremony at Prince of Peace Church, said Lions President Teresa O’Donnell-Ebner.
She and other organizers had worked hard to keep the names of the winners a secret in the run-up to the event. Family members were tipped off, however, so they could be ready to celebrate.
Presenting the award to Grunwald was Lew Plummer, one of last year’s winners, while Gary Beardmore, the other 2017 honoree, presented Mau’s award.
Plummer described Grunwald, who teaches economics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, as a “quiet leader” who was a scout master for 11 years.
“He is a person that leads with his heart and then figures out how he will meet a need,” Plummer added about Grunwald.
After watching children at the Salvation Army picking through recycled toys for their Christmas presents, Grunwald and a co-worker decided to do something about it, Plummer said.
“He (Grunwald) and a coworker at U-WL decided to do something about it so for the last 18 years they have designed and made wooden trucks, grasshoppers and tugboats that bring cheer to children that have so little,” Plummer said. “They purchase all of the materials themselves and organize college students to do the painting and add details.”
Mau volunteers for the La Crescent Food Share Program and the La Crosse Warming Shelter and has also organized mitten & cap drives, and helps at Come for Supper dinners. He also is a past president of both the La Crescent Lions and Rotary clubs and a former teacher and coach.
“Many of his volunteer projects have focused on serving the youth of our area,” Beardmore said of Mau. “He organized a show choir event to raise funds for adaptive exercise equipment for special needs kids, raising enough money to now help contribute to a new adaptive playground being developed now.”
Mau is the kind of volunteer who always “seems to have their eyes open for the next neighbor in need or the next community improvement project,” Beardmore added.
Both award winners were showered with praise from family members and the audience after receiving their awards.