Three women with connections to Grand Valley were honored by the YWCA of West Central Michigan with Tribute Awards.
Retiree Mary Seeger, former dean of Advising Resources and Special Programs, was honored as an advocate for women and girls; Maria Besta, an alumna who earned a degree in therapeutic recreation in 1990, was honored for her contributions to sports, fitness and recreation; and Elaine Dalcher, a 1974 alumna, was honored with the Arts Award.
Besta is the manager of the wheelchair and adaptive sports program at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. She has also directed the Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp at Grand Valley for the past 16 years.
The Mary Free Bed Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports Department originated from the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association. Besta has also served as president of that organization. She hopes to expand the department at Mary Free Bed.
“We want to make sure there are opportunities for all disability types,” said Besta. “Right now, we serve people with physical disabilities, brain injuries and autism, but we want to expand to help those with other disabilities.”
Seeger, who retired from Grand Valley in 2005, said her lifelong passion for advocacy began when she was a child, growing up in Minnesota.
“I grew up in a small-town community in which participation and volunteerism were welcomed and valued,” Seeger said. “The idea that much is expected of those to whom much is given is Biblical, of course, and I try to live that principle.
“Advocating , supporting, standing up and speaking up for others — that’s part of me — in women’s causes, yes, but in lots of other arenas as well.”
The video tributes for Besta and Seeger were produced by the YWCA.
Dalcher, an artist, co-creator of Tanglefoot Studios - which has showcased artists for more than 20 years, and art teacher in the Grand Rapids Public Schools for 34 years, said she enjoys helping others succeed through the creative experience. She has worked for more than 10 years with many physically and developmentally challenged students at Lincoln Development Center, Lincoln School and Kent Vocation Options.
The artist contributed 15 paintings to Grand Valley, which are exhibited in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, that documented her 1998 diagnosis of stage four lung cancer, and journey to recovery. Dalcher has also assisted Grand Valley on several ArtPrize projects.