Wise County Messenger

Franks named Citizen of the YearFree Access

People, businesses recognized at Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce Gala

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR — Charli Franks was named the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year. SUBMITTED.

Charli Franks knows the importance of keeping children and adults with special needs involved in the community. Since the birth of her 38-year-old son, Jason, Franks has committed to serving that community by extending her time, effort and dedication to countless people other than just her own child.

For her efforts in making the special needs community an integral part of Bridgeport, Franks was honored as the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year at the annual banquet.

Franks is involved in numerous special needs programs, including Made 2 Thrive, Wise County Special Needs Baseball, Outward Adventure and serves as a coach for Made 2 Thrive’s Special Olympics. She said her son’s cerebral palsy diagnosis is the reason why she began getting involved with these organizations.

“Jason is my inspiration,” Franks said. “I just want a better life for him and for him to have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

Franks said that after graduating high school, young adults with special needs spend most of their time at home, as the programs they previously participated in were sponsored by schools or for children 18 and under. Part of her mission is making families aware of new opportunities for these adults who are no longer in school.

“Even though these kids and young adults may not take the same path as other people, it’s so important for them to be able to get out and do things and feel like they’re still part of the community,” Franks said. “They need to be able to go to the movies or have dinner with their friends and just be able to hang out with their peers.”

Franks spoke highly of the countless volunteers and parents she has worked with over the years and said that they deserve all of the recognition when it comes to serving the local special needs community. “I promise you that none of this is possible without every single parent or volunteer that helps out. I don’t think I’m doing anything special that someone else isn’t already doing,” she said.

At the banquet, Franks said she was caught off guard when she realized that David McComis, last year’s award winner, was introducing her as the new recipient. 

“In my wildest dreams, I would have never imagined that I would be named Citizen of the Year,” Franks said. “When [David] was speaking, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, is he talking about me?’”

She added that the City of Bridgeport has always been helpful when it comes to making her ideas for special needs events a reality. “It’s just a great community. Everywhere I’ve gone where I’ve had an activity or idea, the doors have been completely wide open to anything that I wanted to do,” Franks said. “People are always pitching in and making sure I have everything I need to make every event possible.”

“I’m so honored that the community would recognize me for the little that I do, and even more importantly, that the type of people that I help are valued here,” Franks said.  “ I don’t think I can ever say thank you enough.”

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR — Foundation Therapy was named the Business of the Year by the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce. SUBMITTED

The Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce recognized several other influential people and businesses at its banquet. Longtime council member Billy Fred Walker was the first-ever recipient of the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Amy Hiler received the President Award and Helen Rankin received the Dr. Hunter Humanitarian Award. Foundation Therapy was named the Business of the Year.


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