WQAD News 8 & Genesis Announce Jefferson Awards Finalist

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Excited. Shocked. Honored.

Those were the three words Cheryl Paasch used to describe how she felt when she heard her name announced as the Jefferson Awards Finalist on Monday, March 21st, 2016.

Out of 8 nominees, Cheryl has been chosen to represent the QCA in Washington, D.C. at the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in June 2016. The Jefferson Awards are sponsored locally by Genesis Health System.

"I can't believe that our story, our event has done so well," said Cheryl, who helped start the MDA Basketball Fundraiser in Camanche, Iowa nearly 3 decades ago. "I'm very happy with our community. They've been there for us and it's because of them that it's grown to be what it is."

The 27th Annual MDA Basketball Fundraiser was just held this past week, March 18th-20th, 2016. It started as an idea by friends to raise money for Cheryl's sons - Jason and Joshua - who were diagnosed with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy 31 years ago. However, Cheryl and her husband, Jim, wanted the fundraiser to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association instead and, together as a family, grew the event with that in mind. In its first year, Cheryl said it raised $3,000. Last year, the event raised more than $41,000. This year, they're on track to hit the $500,000 mark in total donations.

"MDA wins in the end and it touches a lot of lives, not just my sons," said Cheryl.

Cheryl will go to Washington, D.C. in June for the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony. Since 1972, the Jefferson Awards have identified and honored more than 50,000 local "unsung heroes," recognizing their outstanding public service by awarding them with the country's longest standing and most prestigious award.

"I am excited to be able to share our story and hopefully it'll help other families get motivated to take an active role," said Cheryl. "You gotta fight for your children and that was my drive was to fight for my kids. If you can't fight for your kids, you can't expect other people to do it either so if we can get our word out there, that's great - I'll be that voice."

For a full list and stories of all 8 Jefferson Award Nominees, click here.