During this challenging time, Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts and Lexus were looking for local stars who’ve gone above and beyond for the community. They could have been a nurse, doctor, first responder, teacher, grocery worker, delivery driver or any person working hard to help us all.
Thank you to the wonderful members of our Austin community who nominated their friends, family, and coworkers for our Nominate a Star campaign! We reviewed the nominees and chose five winners, who will each receive four tickets to an upcoming show when Broadway returns to Bass Concert Hall. All the nominations we received were inspiring and heartwarming, and we are thrilled to share our winners and other nominations.
- Susan Chimel, nominated by Alison Sinsky: Susan is very dedicated to the residents of the Austin State Supported Living Center. She works as a Physical Therapist with the residents who are profoundly disabled by intellectual disabilities (formerly referred to as mentally retarded–a term no longer used). She is a strong advocate for the residents and their families. The COVID virus has added another challenge to caring for these individuals. Susan continues to care for the residents with compassion and the utmost professionalism.
- Hannah Durrance, nominated by Holly Prine: Hannah is the most giving person I know. Her car was recently stolen and totaled, but that has not stopped this single mom from working endlessly to serve individuals experiencing homelessness in San Marcos through her organization, HOME Center. Her compassion and outreach are qualities we all should strive for.
- Elizabeth Gade, nominated by Samantha Gade: As an AISD Virtual School teacher, my mother goes to students’ houses (currently Zooming!) twice a week to assist them in online classes. These kids still get to walk the stage with their school once they graduate. This is essential for students with anxiety, financial issues, and other extenuating circumstances. Throughout the pandemic, she kept them going and helped them all graduate last semester. She isn’t taking a break, currently working summer school. My mom is a star!
- Becky Hart, nominated by Marlene Barber: Becky is a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) with the Anesthesia group at BSW in Temple Texas. She has volunteered to take care of patients that are COVID positive and need emergent surgery. By doing this Becky has to place and secure a breathing tube in the patient airways, which places Becky at a higher risk for contacting COVID herself from a known positive patient. She is one of a group of CRNAs that continually puts themselves at risk to protect other CRNA colleagues from these assignments. Becky is an amazing CRNA that is the utmost example of professionalism at a time wen we are all afraid. Yet Becky delivers amazing care to her patients all day everyday. Above all, she deserves a night out on the town to relax & have an amazing evening!! Thank you frontline CRNAs for all you do to take care of patients and the enormous airway risks you take everyday during an aerosol driven pandemic!! Hugs!!
- Cori Murphy, nominated by Marie Worsham: Cori is dedicated nurse on a COVID floor. Visitors are not allowed during this time, so nurses are the patients’ main source of communication, comfort, and interaction. Cori sings with her patients, comforts and calms them, and is present during their darkest times. She treats each patient as if they were her own family member. COVID-19 is a very scary and lonely disease, but less so when your nurse is Cori.
- Alisa Chavis, nominated by Rhonda Lewis-Nwosu: I am nominating my sister who is an essential worker at an Alzheimer senior facility and has had a year of adversities that she has overcome. Her husband had life threatening heart issues. She took double shift to make ends meet, he was unable to work and she administered his meds. They didn’t celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary in 2019. This year they both had COVID and have recovered. It’s been a lifelong dream to go to NYC and in light of her struggles, [she] remains positive and is a beacon of hope for our family and her co-workers.
- Christina Lynn, nominated by Nate Smith: Christy is an amazing person who is always giving without thinking of herself. She is the most loving and selfless person I know!
- Ellen Gordon, nominated by Megan Byers: Ellen is the most essential walking encyclopedia social worker at psychiatric emergency services at Integral Care. She works hard and is a joy to be around.
- James Balandran, nominated by Sharon Neukam: James has served in numerous heroic roles..Retiring as an Army medic, serving in battle with wife & kids holding down the home front. He has worked at Brack in the ER and is now an EMT! What a hero!
- James Salaz, nominated by Jeff Harris: James is a 3 County Corporal with Texas State Highway Patrol, State Trooper and he continues to work now (recovered from COVID) with unselfishness and devoting time to our citizens and sacrificing his time with family.
- Lynn Breckenridge, nominated by Laura Zimmerman: Lynn is a respiratory therapist at UT Dell Medical Center which is the primary COVID hospital in Austin. She spends every work day treating COVID patients. She does everything with a joke and a smile. If you ask her how work is going, she smiles, laughs, and says that she’s dealt with isolation patients before. The only thing she ever says is hard is the fact that PPE is HOT. She does, however, express concern and sadness for patients struggling to breath and having no loved ones by their side. Lynn goes into work, handles the heat, and risks her health every shift without complaint and with a loving spirit. She is the quiet, unsung warrior for those battling COVID in ICU!
- Madhu Jasti, nominated by Laura Chapman: The Thermo Fisher Scientific Austin site has been ramping up production for COVID-19 testing kits. It has been a great team effort for the entire site – from manufacturing, to research and development, to IT support, site services support, just everyone! However, I’d like to recognize Madhu Jasti, a scientist in R&D, who helped develop the testing kit, tested and qualified new vendors for raw materials for manufacturing, and has maintained a cheerful attitude through such a stressful time. She’s a great coworker and has really helped during the past several months keeping the COVID-19 testing kits flowing. Thank you!
- Sarah Tally, nominated by Crystal Crosson: Sarah has been one of the managers at HEB since the pandemic hit Texas, she’s been doing her job with HEB since college and is always going out of her way to help others.
- Sierra Perrella, nominated by Alyson Kastner: As a nurse on the frontlines, I’ve seen the exhaustion and fear, but what I’ve seen more is selflessness, a willingness to sacrifice for her patients, a nurse who shows up to be a light daily. As a PICU nurse, she sees some of the toughest pediatric cases, and yet finds ways to bring joy into the lives of all she treats. That’s why Sierra Perrella is a local star!
- Sylvia Hansen, nominated by Kate Stubbs: Sylvia is studying theatre at UT and absolutely loves theater! She has been working at a smoothie shop during quarantine and definitely deserves a nice night at the theater when we get back to school!
- Vennessa Coufal, nominated by Michael Gardner: Ms. Coufal is a local rock star because of her love for teaching and her students. In 2013, my younger daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes; Mrs. Coufal has been there since as a mentor and a friend, since she has Type 1 herself.