Airdrielife magazine has set the process in motion for determining the winners of its 11th annual Amazing Airdrie Women Awards (AAWA), which recognize and celebrate Airdrie women in categories such as advocacy, courage, mentorship and promise.
While the winners are not announced until early summer, online voting will continue until April 30 at airdrielife.com and is open to anyone. Online voters will determine 50 per cent of the decision, while the magazine's editorial team, previous award winners and sponsors will determine the remaining 50 per cent of the decision.
According to airdrielife editor Stacie Gaetz, the date and format of the award ceremony are yet to be determined due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the theme of this year’s awards will be “hope blooms eternal.”
“If there is one common thread between all of these women’s stories, it’s hope,” said Gaetz, of this year’s 41 nominees.
“Each of these women has done and overcome incredible, almost unbelievable things and it is hope for a better future that gives them motivation to do so,” she added. “These are truly some of the most amazing women we have ever celebrated, and we are honoured to share their stories with the community.”
An example of a nominee is Pharmasave on Centre Amazing Heart Award nominee Linda Castle, who was unable to sit or stand after an unfortunate medical incident, but is now completing five-kilometre races and travelling the world.
“I’m deeply humbled by the nomination and if I’m truly honest with myself, I am amazed that someone would view the way I have handled my recovery as anything but normal,” Castle stated in an airdrielife press release.
“I think that I was nominated because regardless of the obstacles that have been in the way throughout the past 12 years since my injury, I managed to progress from being a bedridden invalid to living the best I can within my limitations.”
In 2020, the AAWA ceremony was held virtually due to government restrictions on social gatherings, but Gaetz said she hopes to be able to meet with the winners in-person this year, and congratulate them at a celebratory garden party.
“These awards take the time to celebrate women – women who often go about their day-to-day activities, caring for others and making a difference, without even realizing what they are doing is absolutely amazing and deserves to be celebrated,” Gaetz said.
Airdrielife publisher Sherry Shaw-Froggatt began the awards in 2011 to showcase local women and their stories, and according to Gaetz, the response was positive.
During the first year of the awards, there were three award categories – strength, leadership and compassion. In 2012, the awards grew to include a luncheon and five categories – heart, determination, promise, leadership, and courage. Additional categories were added in 2020 in honour of AAWA’s 10-year anniversary and now include athlete, advocate, cultural ambassador, mentor, legacy, and workplace.
According to Gaetz, over the past 11 years, the annual awards have recognized nearly 400 local women for their contributions and accomplishments.
“Past events have including inspiring speakers, comedians, and improv performers, but the truly special part of the day was seeing so many women celebrate each other,” she said.