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Lee West’s memory lives through awards

He met a tragic death at an all-too-young age, but the legacy of hope and help that was left by Lee West remains alive in our community.

West was the type of young man who never met a stranger, a person who always looked for the best in everyone and someone who always was willing to help others. He greeted everyone with an open heart and a smile.

And though he was only 15 when his life ended on Jan. 31, 2012, in a house fire, his love of life and of others has been carried on through the Lee Alexander West Spiritual Movement. Founded by his mother, Cookie West, family members and friends, the organization works to keep his memory alive by recognizing area residents who go out of their way to make life better for everyone in the community.

One of the ways they have done that is through the annual memorial and awards service that is held each year at the Tower of Power Church. Dozens of teachers, local men and women who make an impact on the region and first responders have been recognized since that event was first held.

While the ceremony has become another victim of COVID-19, the recognition will continue.

Each of the school districts in Jefferson County as well as the Jefferson County Educational Service Center will be recognized for the work they have done to help educate students during the pandemic.

Village Impact Awards will be presented to three educators who are building health villages for children. Honored will be Jim Maul, a guidance counselor at Indian Creek High School who is in his 49th year as an educator; Ross Ivkovich, a 21-year veteran of the Steubenville City School District; and Troy Fernandez of the West Karate Studio in Weirton.

The Heart Award, established last year to honor first responders, won’t be presented this year because, as Cookie West said, it’s not possible to single out one person or agency to recognize during a period when all of them are doing such important work.

West’s memory is kept alive through the annual awards presentation as well as a community birthday party held each summer at Belleview Park and a basketball tournament held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

Each event offers a chance to share love and faith, and to remember the life of a young man whose life was lost much too soon.

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