Dr. Jasti Rao, head of cancer research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, was named the winner of the inaugural The Peorian of the Year Award during a reception Wednesday at Par-A-Dice Hotel.
The award was established by The Peorian and its parent company, AdCo Advertising Agency Inc., AdCo Advertising Agency to honor a resident of the Peoria region who through his work or avocation has improved the quality of life in the area now and for the future.
Also presented Wednesday was a $10,000 donation from The Peorian to Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Dr. Rao’s name. He chose the Children’s Hospital to receive the donation if he was selected as The Peorian of the Year.
The finalists for the award were selected by The Peorian, AdCo and sponsors of the award from among the nominations submitted by the public. The other finalists were:
•Glen Barton, retired chairman of Caterpillar Inc. and chairman of the board of Quest Charter Academy.
•Carl Cannon, founder and head of the ELITE Program that works to keep kids in school and from making bad life choices.
•Jim McConoughey, former president of the Heartland Partnership Group.
•Bonnie Noble, executive director of the Peoria Park District.
“Think of it as a ‘good egg’ award for someone in the Peoria region. A way to honor good citizenship, an award we really don’t have in Peoria,” said AdCo President Julie Russell. “We wanted to honor somebody for what they are doing to make Peoria a better place, as well as contribute to a non-profit organization of the winner’s choice as our way of giving back and recognizing our community accomplishments.”
The winner was chosen through a vote by readers of The Peorian that were cast on its website, www.thepeorian.com.
Co-sponsors of the award were Par-A-Dice and Arby’s. The award was created by Peoria artist Hiram Toraason.