Berry Dilley honored by Athens City Commission on Disabilities with 2022 Athena Award

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — On Wednesday Berry Dilley was named the recipient of the eighth annual Athena Award by the City of Athens and the Athens City Commission on Disabilities at a ceremony at Arts West (132 W. State St.).

The Athena Award is given out by the Athens City Commission on Disabilities. It is the only award the city gives out and was established in 2015. The award recognizes efforts to make Athens more accessible.

Davey McNelly, the Chairperson of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities, called the Athena Award “a celebration of everyone in the disability community in Athens.”

Dilley is a founding member of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities and has continuously worked to identify and address issues to make life in Athens better for people with disabilities.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson called Dilley “an amazing person and someone who really brings you to task to go that extra mile.”

Dilley said it was “really, really touching to feel that what I’ve been doing was appreciated and recognized.”

In the future she wants to focus on making the city more accessible for elderly people – an issue she said has not been getting enough attention until now.

Patterson also praised the diligence and advocacy work of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities, a group which was established in 2004.

Dr. Dianne Bouvier, the former Associate Director for University Accessibility at Ohio University, echoed Patterson’s sentiment.

“The disability commission works in and with our community to enhance awareness of individual differences and how structures create a sense of disability,” Bouvier said. “It’s not the people with disabilities but our structures that create the disability. Those structures can be modified and in modifying them we can allow people to become more inclusive and to participate in what we have to offer.”

Other nominees for the 2022 Athena Award included Athens on Demand Transit; Nancy Epling (Passion Works); William Peacock (People First), and Rachel Ulbrich (Echoing Hills/Athens County Community Singers).

Previous recipients of the award include Passion Works Studio Founder and Executive Director Patty Mitchell, Ohio University Professor and Advocate Dr. jw Smith, and the Founder of the Appalachian Family Center for Autism & Disability Resources and Education Dr. Noriko Kantake.

The ceremony – which was conceived to be as accessible as possible, with ASL interpreters present during the entire event – also featured musical performances by the Athens County Community Singers and the Calliope Feminist Choir as well as speeches honoring those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

Patterson hopes the award continues to contribute to overcoming the stigma people with disabilities still often face and to help citizens to “reach out with open arms and embrace people with disabilities in our community.” He also mentioned that nominations for the 2023 Athena Awards will open soon and encouraged everyone to participate in the nomination process.

For more information on the Athena Awards and how to nominate people for 2023, visit the website of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities at this link.