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Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber presents 29th annual Spirit Awards


Special to The Press

While the event may have been held in June, the 29th annual Spirit Awards for the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce felt like it was being held in mid- March.

The wind whipped through the pavilions of Ontelaunee Park, Lynn Township, as members of the chamber celebrated another year of successful business.

Although the weather was less than comfortable, the food and entertainment were very much the opposite, having been catered by Curious Goods of the Bake Oven Inn.

Assorted pastries and bagels, egg frittatas, and fresh fruit were available for all to enjoy.

In addition, there was the open bar for members to indulge in mimosas, Bloody Marys, and many different alcoholic beverages.

Live music was provided by the Bobby Sigfried Duo.

With food and music to partake in, conversations broke out all around.

Many talked about how their respective businesses had to adapt in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic and growing inflation.

Even as local economies are affected by these changes, business owners and leaders are assured they will continue to thrive so long as their market is needed.

There even was a surprise appearance by Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong and Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7th.

Both Armstrong and Wild made their rounds to the members of the Chamber as they promised their support of the small businesses that help the commerce of the Lehigh Valley.

After breakfast and conversation, the awards ceremony promptly began.

Kylie Adams recognized the numerous sponsors, including Ironton Telephone, Service Electric, and all other benefactors involved in previous years’ awards.

The ceremony was divided into three separate award categories: Spirit Award Recipient, Business of the Year, and Nonprofit of the Year.

The first award presented was the Spirit Award Recipient, given to Walter Niedermeyer of Slatington.

Niedermeyer served as the mayor of Slatington for 20 years, attending every event and meeting the community offered to stay engaged.

He also served as an Allentown firefighter for more than 30 years and helped care for the Slatington Trail during his tenure in the Venture Group.

Niedermeyer accepted the award with a jolly smile after his introduction by Nancy Treskot.

“I don’t have a lot to say that hasn’t already been said,” he said. “But thank you to all in the Chamber and Slatington. “It’s been an honor to serve you.”

The next award was Business of the Year bestowed to Heintzelman Funeral Home, Schnecksville.

The funeral home has served the community since its founding in 1938.

Since that time, the facility has been owned and managed by four generations of the Heintzelman family.

Robert B. Heintzelman serves as its current supervisor and lovingly stated the success of his business comes from his 15-part mantra, with the most important creed “to always put your heart above your pocketbook.”

The last award was the Nonprofit of the Year, given to Bill and Chris Hankee of the Krysta Hankee Memorial Fund.

The organization was founded in memory of their daughter, Krysta, who collapsed while exercising and died a few days later.

As an organ donor, Krysta was able to save five others in her death.

To honor their daughter, her parents raise awareness of organ donation and the lives that can be saved when people register.

The memorial fund provides scholarships for youth who exemplify leadership and service in the community.

Both Bill and Chris Hankee accepted the award, saying “their pain provided an outlet to help their neighbors” and inspire others to consider becoming organ donors.

PRESS PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER BOUCHER Walter Niedermeyer, former mayor of Slatington, was the recipient for this year's Spirit Award by the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce. His long career also includes presidency of the Allentown Fireman's Relief and membership in the Venture Group of Slatington Trail.
Along with food and entertainment, the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce raffled off many baskets of goods to support the Chamber's scholarship fund.
Bill and Chris Hankee are the recipients of the Nonprofit of the Year Award. Their nonprofit, the Krysta Hankee Memorial Fund, was started to honor their daughter, an organ donor who saved five lives in her passing.
PRESS PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER BOUCHER Greater Northern Lehigh Spirit Award winners Walter Niedermeyer, Chris and Bill Hankee, and Robert Heintzelman gathered at Ontelaunee Park, Lynn Township, to celebrate their contributions to the community.
Robert Heintzelman of Heintzelman Funeral Home received the award for Business of the Year. One of Heintzelman's mantras for business is “to keep your heart over your pocketbook.”