Our final recipients of the evening is for our closest family friends The Snowdens. We met the Snowdens 3 weeks after moving to Bloomington from Oregon 23 years ago. When you live 800 miles from your closest relative as most State Farm families do, you make connections that become family.

The Snowdens and the Miskulin’s began spending weekends, holidays and birthdays together. Our son Jacob and their daughter Taylor were born on the same day in 1989 and literally grew up together.

When Jon was baptized in the hospital 5 days after he was born, Mindy and Tom stood in as godparents. Our favorite memories are of Halloween with hotdogs and hot chocolate, Easter egg hunts and 4th of July when Mindy and I would sing Lee Greenwood’s song I’m proud to be an American at Fairview at the top of our lungs and embarrass our children. We now have a new tradition of spending Thanksgiving and Black Friday together because it was Jon’s favorite day. Mindy is the organizer, she can rearrange a kitchen and plan a garage sale like professional and Tom is the brawn, providing strength both physically and emotionally. I understand people are still talking about the Movie Premier we had for Jon’s High School themed graduation party complete with 7 ft. golden Oscars, red carpet, paparazzi and concession stand run by Mindy!

For the past 23 years they have been our anchor and in our darkest days our most trusted friends. They have raised two daughters who have taken up the cause for autism acceptance, as Tara who teaches at Oly North Elementary and advises her faculty on acceptable practices and is a leader in the Olympia School District in accommodating special needs students.

Tara with a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction was chosen by the Illinois Principal Association as a teacher award winner in 2013/2014. She is also the varsity cheerleader coach at Normal West where a special needs student earned her place on the varsity squad this year.

Their daughter Taylor, a former Miss Illinois, beauty contestant works in Mobile, AL as a children’s therapist in a clinical setting and starting soon in a school setting. Taylor is specializing in treating children on the spectrum and wrote her Master’s degree in Social Work final project in Memory of Jon, on Autism. We are proud that our children and grandchildren call them Aunt Mindy and Uncle Tom. Join us in celebrating our HEAL HEROES for the gift of family, Mindy Snowden, Tom Snowden, Tara Snowden Loyer, and Taylor Snowden.