The Lycoming County Brotherhood Alliance annually honors local people who step up to the plate on behalf of their communities and demonstrate some of the values that make America great.
Barry Morrison, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, made it clear that while many are pointing the way to benefiting their communities, an ugly side of the world continues to exist - that of bigotry and hate.
"We are still divided by race," said Morrison, who served as keynote speaker of the event.
MARK NANCE, Sun-Gazette
While hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan hold little of their former power, racism and bigotry and violence are far from being eliminated.
Attacks against those of different color, religion, even sexual orientation continue to be part of society.
"We have to stand up and face these realities," Morrison said. "The ADL is an American institution. It's an organization with hope that we can improve our communities."
Leadership, honesty, hard work and sacrifice are part of what it will take to have positive impacts.
Some of those values are being put into play by the honorees of Wednesday night's dinner.
Betsy Rider, owner of Otto Bookstore, and area businessman Dan Klingerman were recipients of Pickelner Citation Awards.
W.J. Choate, known in local circles as a champion golfer, received the Ray Keyes Sports Award.
Rider talked about her efforts in promoting the downtown of Williamsport partly through her profiles in the former "Grit" newspaper, but also by putting together downtown block parties.
Rider took over the business after her late husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
She said she drew her inspiration from children's books she read and sold.
A mother of 10, she noted that her children were involved with her "all the way."
"So between my 10 kids and my children's books, I hope I made a difference and I hope and pray someone else can take up the torch."
Rider has been involved in the Center City Association and the Downtown Merchants and Business Association. Her store received the NAIBA Legacy Award as the oldest independent bookstore in the U.S.
As Lycoming County Brotherhood Alliance President Joe Smith put it: "There is only one Otto's Bookstore."
Klingerman is president and CEO of the Liberty Group, which manages more than 60 organizations including Williamsport Properties, Danko Holdings, Liberty Hospitality Partners, Infinity Oilfield Services, Fishlips, and HUBS Home Oxygen.
He established the Tree House Fund with the First Community Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations that benefit children. Over the years it has benefited such organizations as Camp Cadet, Daikon Family Services Favors Forward Foundation, Infant Development Program, Lycoming-Sullivan Standards Coalition, and Clinton County Special Olympics.
Klingerman said he likes to at least think he strives every day to be a better person.
"I believe that giving and doing for others is the best we can do," he said.
WRAK Radio personality Ken Sawyer introduced Choate as not just a golfer, but one with impressive accomplishments.
Choate was a nine-time men's club champion at the Williamsport Country Club and partnered with Joe Reynolds to grab 10 Williamsport Country Club Invitational Championships as well as six second-place finishes.
Choate also played twice in the U.S. Open.
Sawyer noted Choate's efforts on behalf of flood victims residing along Route 87 in September 2011, as well as his work with the Wounded Warriors Project.
"He's a champion in golf and a champion in life," he said.
Choate said golf allowed him to travel throughout the U.S. as well as abroad.
It also, he said, gave him the chance to meet a lot of people and taught him a few things too, including competition.
He fondly recalled rounds of golf played on local links as well as the late Ray Keyes, the longtime Williamsport Sun-Gazette sports editor, for whom the award he received is named.
"He was a great person and a great reporter," he said.