Best of Blount
Best of Blount Awards
Featuring former U.S. Army pilot Mike Durant
Thursday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.
Clayton Center for the Arts
502 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.
Tickets are $35 (plus taxes and fees)
Tickets on sale at the Clayton Center for the Arts Ticket office (865-981-8590)
Former U.S. Army pilot and author Mike Durant, whose saga was chronicled in the 2002 Oscar Award winning movie Black Hawk Down, is the guest speaker for the Blount Partnership's Best of Blount Awards held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 14 at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus.
Sponsored by Charter Spectrum, C2RL, Cherokee Millwright, DENSO, Blount Excavating and Massey Electric, tickets are $35 (plus taxes and fees) and can be purchased from the Clayton Center ticket office.
The Best of Blount Awards celebrates those individuals and businesses that give their time and resources to make this area an outstanding place to live and work.
Awards are given for Philanthropist of the Year, Community Impact Award, Bright Future Award, Large and Small Business of the Year, First Responder Award and the Tourism Award. Nominations are closed.
Best of Blount Awards Sponsors
During Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia, Durant was the pilot of helicopter "Super Six Four." His was the second MH-60L of two Black Hawk helicopters to crash during the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993. After his helicopter was hit on the tail by a rocket-propelled grenade, it crashed about a mile southwest of the operation's target.
Durant and his crew of three, Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank, and Tommy Field, were badly injured in the crash. Durant suffered a crushed vertebra in his back and a compound fracture of his left femur. Two Delta Force snipers, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart, had been providing suppressive fire from the air at hostile Somalis who were converging on the crash site. Both volunteered for insertion onto the ground to protect the crew and join Durant in fighting off the advancing Somalis. The pair killed an estimated 25 Somalis before they ran out of ammunition. They were soon overwhelmed and killed, after Cleveland, Frank and Field had died. Both Gordon and Shughart received the Medal of Honor posthumously for their heroism in this action.
The hostile Somalis captured Durant, the sole American survivor, and held him captive for 11 days. During much of his imprisonment, he was personally protected and cared for by Abdullahi "Firimbi" Hassan, a physician and propaganda minister to Somali General Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Aidid then released Durant and a Nigerian soldier who had been captured previously into the custody of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
After being freed, and recovering at Landstuhl Air Base in Germany, Durant resumed flying with the 160th SOAR. He retired from the Army in 2001 with more than 3,700 flight hours, over 1,400 of which were flown with night vision goggles. He now offers seminars to military personnel about helicopter maneuvering and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations.
Durant's awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, Prisoner of War Medal, and many others.
He is owner, president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, an engineering services company based in Huntsville, Alabama. Pinnacle Solutions specializes in aviation training and the development of sophisticated training devices such as high-fidelity aircraft simulators. He and his wife, Lisa, have six children.
2019 Best of Blount Award Winners
Guest Speaker - Mike Durant
Philanthropist of the Year – Kathy Johnson
Large Business of the Year – Altar’d State
Small Business of the Year – Avero Advisors
Bright Future Award – Tina Rhea, REO Cheesewagon
First Responder Award – Elizabeth Murphy, Blount County Sheriff’s Office
Community Impact Award – United Way of Blount County
Tourism Impact Award – RT Lodge
2018 Best of Blount Award Winners
Guest Speaker - Peyton Manning
Tourism Award - Dancing Bear Lodge
Bright Future Award - Express Strategic Services
Large Business of the Year - Accenture
Small Business of the Year - ICC International
Community Impact Award - Kingdom Design Ministries
First Responder Award - Blount County Sheriff James Berrong
Philanthropist of the Year - Jason Brooks
2017 Best of Blount Award Winners
Guest Speaker - Marcus Luttrell
Tourism Award - Downtown Maryville Association
Bright Future Award - Patriot Threads
Large Business of the Year - CBBC Bank
Small Business of the Year - Lowe's Drugs & Home Health Care
Community Impact Award - Volunteer Action Civitan Club
First Responder Award - The late Maryville Police Officer Kenny Moats
Philanthropist of the Year - Randy Massey
2016 Best of Blount Awards Winners
Guest Speaker - Rusty Wallace
Tourism Award - Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority
Bright Future Award - The Golden Age 1942
Large Business of the Year - Newell Brands
Small Business of the Year - Blount County Eye Center
Community Impact Award - Pregnancy Resource Center
Philanthropist of the Year - Jack Campbell
2015 Best of Blount Awards Winners
Guest Speaker - Frank Caliendo
Tourism Award - Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks & Recreation Commission
Bright Future Award - Tony Saddy, Get Fit Maryville
Large Business of the Year - DENSO
Small Business of the Year - MK Russell and Abbott
Community Impact Award - Blount County Community Action Agency - Meals on Wheels
Philanthropist of the Year - Tom Hatcher, Blount County Clerk
2014 Best of Blount Awards Winners
Guest Speaker - Robert O'Neill
Tourism Award - Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson
Bright Future Award - LeConte Realty
Large Business of the Year - Vanquish Worldwide
Small Business of the Year - Ingram, Overholt and Bean, P.C.
Community Impact Award - Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee
Philanthropist of the Year - Eric Barton, president and CEO of Vanquish Worldwide
2013 Business Excellence Awards Winners
Guest Speaker - Durwood "Mr. Doubletalk" Fincher
Impact Award - Blount County Health Initiative
Tourism Award - Blackberry Farm
Civic Service Organization of the Year - Maryville Lions Club
Bright Future Award - Corey Pabst, Computer Catering
Non-Profit Organization of the Year - Family Promise of Blount County
Innovation Award - Hickory Construction
Minority/Woman Owned Business of the Year - Leanne Moe-McQueen, Studio 212
Volunteer of the Year - Sharon Hannum
New Business of the Year - Roost
Above & Beyond Award - Leon Williams Contractors
Creative Marketing Tourism Award - Clayton Center for the Arts
New Interactive Attraction Tourism Award - CLIMBWorks
Entrepreneur of the Year - John Clark, Vienna Coffee House
Small Business of the Year - Trillium Cove Home & Garden Shop
Medium Business of the Year - Anderson Lumber Co.
Large Business of the Year - Alcoa Inc.
Philanthropist of the Year - Brenda Sellers
2012 Business Excellence Awards Winner
Guest Speaker - Hallerin Hilton Hill
Above & Beyond Award - Hickory Construction
Award in Innovation - Alcoa, Inc.
Bright Future Award - Wendy Wand
Entrepreneur of the Year - Randy Burleson
Impact Award - East Tennessee Medical Group
Minority/Woman Owned Business of the Year - Mary Beth West Consulting
New Business of the Year - America’s Best Choice Windows & More
Non-Profit/Civic Service Org. of the Year - United Way of Blount County
Philanthropist of the Year - Joy Bishop
Small Business of the Year - Multi-Media Solutions
Large Business of the Year - The Massey Group
Tourism Award - Maryville College – Dr. Tom Bogart
Volunteer of the Year - Virginia Hardwick