It was almost an Olympic moment, gold medallions and all, for Sheriff Don Ash and Lt. Kelli Bailiff on Thursday night.
The two received national honors for their volunteer work, in a ceremony at the Unified Government Commission meeting.
“To me this is a higher service than the Olympic medal for what it stands for and the people behind it,” said Stephen Barnhart, president, American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation of Grandview, Mo., as he bestowed the gold medallion. “It’s the best we can do and the highest that we’ve got.”
A gold medal was presented to Sheriff Ash and to Lt. Bailiff, for their continuous commitment to volunteer service.
They also received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which has been given to only three other people in the Greater Kansas City area.
“It’s the exact right time to recognize special people, especially in the law enforcement community,” Barnhart said.
The President’s Volunteer Service Award is one of the most prestigious and recognized awards in existence, directly from the President’s office, he said. The program started in 2003 and recognizes people above and beyond the call of duty for extraordinary services, he said. It is sponsored through the Points of Light Foundation.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given for completing more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service throughout a lifetime, Barnhart said.
The Gold Points of Light Foundation Award was given to Lt. Bailiff for education and efforts toward betterment of society and community policing, he said.
Sheriff Ash also received the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Gold Points of Light Foundation Award for his volunteer work in many areas.
As a former member of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, Sheriff Ash volunteered to make presentations about community policing and dedicated extra time to the DARE program. As sheriff, he volunteers in many community programs. He volunteers at his church as worship leader, adult Sunday School teacher, choir member and on special church committees.
He also served as a board volunteer for the Wyandotte County Sports Association, Veronica’s Voice Ministries, The Shepherd’s Center of Kansas City, Kan., and is currently on the board of trustees at Kansas City Kansas Community College. He has many volunteer hours as a baseball, football and basketball coach working with youth through the Wyandotte County Sports Association.
Lt. Bailiff has volunteered her off-duty time for more than 23 years answering phone calls and following up leads to find missing children from the Child Search program on KMBC-TV. She is the host of the program, which is part of her on-duty work. Lt. Bailiff has spent many years volunteering on her own time to speak to local organizations and groups.
She has served on the board of the Kansas City chapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and she currently is on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, requiring many hours of volunteer time. She was recognized with the Exemplary Community Service Award from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and she also has received the 2014 Hendricks Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service, the 2013 Humanitarian Award for Community Leadership in Philanthropy from the Medical Missions Foundation, the 2013 Law Enforcement of the Year Award from the National Center and the Department of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice.
“Lt. Bailiff and I are both humbled to receive the award,” Sheriff Ash said. “I think voluntarism has been a part of our life, and I know it has been a part of my life since I was 15 when I took on my first volunteer assignment.”
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things, and I just never considered that you don’t serve,” he said. “The spirit of voluntarism in Wyandotte County has always been strong, and it has always been prevalent and paramount.”