Baker, Iacocca, Mrs. Ford Honored; But 12-year-old Steals Show
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, auto executive Lee Iacocca and former first lady Betty Ford were among nine Americans honored Tuesday for outstanding public service, but a 12-year-old boy’s acceptance speech stole the show.
″I accept this in behalf of all my friends in need who have allowed us to serve them,″ said Trevor Ferrell, 12, of Gladwyne, Pa., who won national attention in his efforts to care for the hungry and homeless on Philadelphia’s streets.
Ferrell became the youngest individual ever to win a Jefferson Award, presented each year by the American Institute for Public Service.
Baker was cited for the greatest public service by an elected or appointed official; Iacocca for greatest public service by a private citizen; Mrs. Ford for outstanding public service benefitting the disadvantaged.
Ferrell was honored for greatest public service by an individual aged 35 or under.
Each of the four national awards carry with them a $5,000 cash prize and a gold-on-silver medallion.
″I have found that people who are different are easy to love,″ said Ferrell, who in the winter of 1983 began traveling each night from his comfortable suburban home to supply blankets and pillows to Philadelphia’s street people.
″I know we need government but the government cannot do everything. Caring and loving is best done by individuals,″ Ferrell said.
His brief speech drew thunderous applause from those gathered in an ornate Supreme Court conference room, and sparked master of ceremonies Jack Valenti to joke, ″When I get home I’m going to shoot my own children.″
Baker, nominated for his work as White House chief of staff before assuming his post at Treasury, was honored as ″the most visible, respected and influential of the president’s inner circle.″
He called the award ″especially meaningful to me since it carries the name of Thomas Jefferson.″
″His principles of political and religious freedom guided the creation of the United States, and continue to guide our nation now,″ Baker said.
Iacocca, cited for rescuing Chrysler Corp. from collapse and for ″inspiring new faith in American industries,″ and Mrs. Ford, honored for ″her courage and candor in the treatment of alcohol and drug dependency,″ did not attend the ceremony.
Mrs. Ford’s award was accepted by her daughter, Susan.
Five winners of awards for outstanding public service benefitting local communities each won $1,000 and a medallion. They are: Linda Barker of Seattle; Dr. Frank McGlone of Littleton, Colo.; Arturo Montoya of Tucson, Ariz.; Jean Kennedy Smith of New York City; and Mary Beth Tober of Johnson City, Tenn.
Mrs. Barker was honored for her work as co-founder and executive director of Families and Friends of Missing Persons and Violent Crime Victims in Seattle.
She accepted her award ″in behalf of the victims, past and present.″
″It was their loss that motivated us to work for changes in the criminal justice system, changes that would create justice for all - even the victms,″ Mrs. Barker said.
Dr. McGlone was cited for dedicating his career to easing the medical problems of the aged. In 1952 he founded the Medical Care and Research Foundation, the only organization of its type focusing on the aging process. More recently, he founded a Denver clinic offering free health care to the elderly poor.
″This is a tribute to the community of Denver, not just to me,″ he said in accepting the award.
Montoya, who could not attend Tuesday’s ceremony due to ill health, was honored for his work with Yaqui Indians. Donating time and money, the retired butcher made it possible for Yaqui children to participate in activities they otherwise would not have experienced.
Tom Foust, special service director of The Arizona Daily Star, commented in accepting the award for Montoya, that the recipient probably would have said that ″despite how proud he is ... the acceptance of the Yaqui people and their friendship is reward enough for him.″
Mrs. Smith, the sister of the late President John F. Kennedy, was cited for her pioneering work in bringing arts to the disabled in New York City. Her efforts led to establishment of the ″Very Special Arts Festival,″ annual events in most states featuring the art of handicapped individuals. Some 600,000 students participate in the festival program.
″I would like to accept this award on behalf of all the dedicated parents, teachers and volunteers who work so hard ... and most importantly, I accept on behalf of the students,″ Mrs. Smith said.
Miss Tober, a 17-year-old high school senior, was awarded for her work with teen alcoholism and drug abuse. Overcoming a drug dependency that began when she was 11, she now volunteers her services as a peer counselor and is a member of Gov. Lamar Alexander’s Task Force on Youth, Alcohol and Drug Abuse.″
″I began doing volunteer work ... because I did not want others to have to live the kind of life I once had,″ Miss Tober said.