It was a morning for showing pride in the community, as more than 180 gathered for the annual Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce Pride Breakfast on Wednesday.

This year’s event was the 45th breakfast that has been a part of the Stow Pride Festival and is the opportunity to recognize and honor business persons, businesses, community members and scholarship recipients.

"The Pride Community Breakfast is one of the most satisfying events that the Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce hosts every year for Pride Week in Stow," said Doris Stewart, executive director of the Chamber. "When you have the opportunity to honor hard-working and passionate people in the community with well-deserved public recognition, it's a good day. Today was that day."

Honored this year as the Business Person of the Year, an award co-sponsored by the Chamber and the Stow Sentry, was Kristen Messner of All About Dance. Presenting the award was last year’s winner, Carley Kruse of Teresa’s Pizza. In her introduction of the winner (which is kept secret until the breakfast), Kruse said, "This deserving winner has worn many hats while growing their business here in the Stow-Munroe Falls area. This year marks its 25th year.

"This remarkable person has been an active community participant as they have instilled the "need to give back’ ideals in their students by encouraging them to perform for community seniors as well as participate in food drives and fundraisers. They have created an environment in which each student can feel success and realize their potential by building their self esteem, understanding poise and discipline outside of the studio."

Kruse noted, "With more certifications in dance, acrobatics and teaching than I can same, this person has even danced with Barry Manilow’s Company and performed on Holland Cruise Lines."

In presenting the award, Kruse said, "Although her studio may be All About Dance - Right now it's All About Her."

A new award this year was presented, Small Business of the Year, and the winner was Heather Ciranna of Corner Cup Coffeehouse.

Kathy Romito, who is the Chamber’s board president and the 2016 Volunteer of the Year, announced the winner, also kept a secret. "Today we honor a small business in the Stow-Munroe Falls community. More importantly, we honor a business owner who possesses grit, determination, passion and dedication. Many small business owners are present in this room today. As we all know, our small businesses began with a dream, a can-do attitude, and, probably, no money.

"This small business owner’s greatest joy building a small independent business has nothing to do with getting rich ... it’s about offering a community gathering place where people can connect with and learn about each other. She strives to provide an exceptional, memorable customer experience, and she focuses on doing this with her three Ps --- her Product, her People, and her Passion ... all served up in her place of peace," Romito said.

"After nearly three years of research, number crunching, networking, and building what she still calls her "dream team", Corner Cup Coffeehouse opened its doors to Stow and its surrounding communities in January of 2015," added Romito.

This year also saw the awarding of the Volunteer & Friend of the Community Award, which now combines what had been two separate honors.

Linda Trevorrow, the 2015 Business Person of the Year winner, announced this year’s honoree was Laura Root.

"When I called this person to share the news of her award, she was instantly shocked. I sensed a great deal of humility and a bit of disbelief," Trevorrow shared.

"Born and raised in Stow, this resident decided to make Stow her home and her personal mission. In 1972, just a few short years after joining her church, she was instrumental in starting the children care center at the United Methodist Church in Stow," Trevorrow said. "Continuing in that tradition, she still attends the church and works to keep the food pantry stacked with food and staffed with volunteers."

Trevorrow said Root’s love of Stow and children "extends to the schools where she has been known to help teachers in their classrooms, fulfilling duties such as assisting with costumes for plays and musicals. Additionally, this person describes her contribution as assisting to develop learning skills that produce successful students."

She added, "We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge her deep compassion for children living in food deficient situations. She took action when she quickly realized that something needed done. She along with her friend Jan Mather, founded Bulldog Bags, a program which sends food home on the weekends with many students in need. In 2015, a Stow Bulldog bag became a non-profit and serves over 500 students. ‘Kids are hungry,’ she says. It really was that simple in her eyes. She saw a need and set out to fill it."

Also recognized were the Stow Fourth of July Parade Grand Marshals for 2018, Gordon and Carolyn Young, members of the Kiwanis Club of Stow-Munroe Falls, which cosponsors the parade with the city of Stow. Honoring them were Stow Mayor Jim Costello and Len Budd, president of the Kiwanis.

The Chamber also awarded four $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors. "There were many highly qualified candidates for scholarships this year," said Stewart. "The President's Club contributors can be very proud of all the students chosen for the $1,000 scholarships to help them pursue their dreams. We sure are!"

The winners are:

• Emma Workman who has wanted to be an orthodontist since she was in seventh grade and dreams of owning her own orthodontic practice one day. Emma would like to change people’s lives and give them the freedom to smile and express their happiness while not being self-conscious. She will be attending John Carroll University in the fall.

• Emma White who plans to attend Ohio University in order to work within the business side of the country music industry and live in Nashville. After graduation her dream job is to work for a record label or specific artist in the areas of promotions or marketing.

• Maria Petrecca, who will be attending the University of Akron College of Engineering. Maria chose engineering as a career because science and math are what make her happy. She feels science is one of the most mind-blowing elements of the world we live in and she can’t wait to learn as much about it as she can.

• Finally, we have Zachary Kline who is off to The University of Akron College of Engineering. One of the reasons he wants to strive to help others is the number of broken bones he has had over the years. When he heard about the field of bio-mechanical engineering, he knew it was the field for him. His goal is to help others with today’s ever expanding technology.

Editor Marsha McKenna can be reached at 330-541-9430 or email mmckenna@recordpub.com.