Thank you for celebrating you | Nandell Palmer

I wish to say thank you to all the families, friends and well-wishers who attended the I Celebrate You event this past Sunday at the Knutzen Family Theatre.

What a joy it was for me to see 25 white, black, Asian and Hispanic men and women get celebrated publicly. Packing the 250-seat theatre, the audience was regaled by the powerful sound of the Harmony Kings, who brought the house down from grateful applauses.

The very pregnant AnnaMaria Horn, with her captivating voice, sang the national anthem, then later belted out Celine Dion’s “You Were My Eyes When I Couldn’t See” to a very appreciative audience.

Thanks to the Federal Way City Council contingent: Linda Kochmar, Jeanne Burbidge, Michael Park and councilman-elect Roger Freeman.

Judge Dave Larson, who nominated his parents, also spoke glowingly about celebrating others. Thanks to State Rep. Mark Miloscia, Martin Moore, Hope Elder, and the Jamaican Honorary Consul to Washington, Hon. Enid Dwyer.

The effervescent Peggy LaPorte from FUSION made her distinguished mark as usual. She celebrated her nominee, Maurleen Davidson, by reading a heartfelt letter.

Kudos to the talented Karen Frerichs, director of the Harmony Kings, who played the graduation tune, and backed up Yvonne Palmer in her “Wind Beneath My Wings” rendition, among other musical interludes.

The place was festooned with nicely arranged flowers, and the credit goes to Dr. Melody Bennett-Gayle of “The Bureau” for donating her flowers to the event.

One of the biggest highlights for me was to meet people like 81-year-old Sung Hee Lee, who was born in North Korea. Because of the war, she received only an elementary school education, but was instrumental in raising successful children.

The oldest honoree was Jane Steels, who was absent, but the runner-up was 96-year-old Althea Austin, a former missionary and schoolteacher to Liberia, West Africa.

Brittney Smith, dancing to “I Hope You Dance,” snaked her way onstage with a rousing reception from the gracious audience.

Thanks to the Federal Way Mirror, with editor Andy Hobbs doing what he does best for the full coverage of the event.

Debrena Jackson-Gandy did an excellent job emceeing the event, which lent a lot of panache and class. Robert Taylor, reciting “Miss Daisy’s Child,” stirred up the crowd with his commanding voice, paying tribute to Jeffrey Rivers, who took care of his grandmother Daisy Henry until her passing at age 101 in 2007.

Jason Palmer, my youngest son, read a personal letter to Eugene and Myla Montgomery for their benevolence in taking schoolchildren on the annual Montgomery-Koss train rides to Portland, Ore.

Jevoy Palmer, on the other hand, needs to have some kind of disclaimer in place to alert people that he is still a junior in high school. Most people think that he is in college, based on his assertiveness and maturity. He delivered his speech about honoring others from a youth perspective with much aplomb.

Time and space will elude me to fully give thanks to everybody involved. But I would not forgive myself if I didn’t mention Terome and Ronda Fulmore, who dressed the honorees in gowns loaned from the bighearted people at Christ Church.

Thank you to Centerstage’s Laura Campbell for her creative insights, keynote speaker Kevin Ikeda of Meeker Middle School, Regina Campbell, Angelique Gladney, Jason Coleman, Juanita Lyles and Debbie, who supervised the food and beverage, and many more.

People have complimented the Caribbean smorgasbord of jerked chicken, meatballs in creole sauce, rice and beans, bread pudding, etc., but it was my pleasure all along to satisfy the attendees in more ways than one. So I am glad you had a swell time.

When I told him about my intentions a few weeks ago, Federal Way School District Superintendent Tom Murphy warned me that this event could potentially turn into an annual affair. And at the look of things, it would appear as though that is the case.

Most people are looking forward to having I Celebrate You becoming an annual event. They have pledged their support to see this become a reality. All I can say for now is thank you, and thank you again.

In the meantime, I will go on celebrating you!

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