The Edmonds Kiwanis Club earlier this week announced that Bill Brayer, founder of the MS Helping Hands Donor Closet, was Edmonds’ 2013 Citizen of the Year.
Make that co-citizen.
During introductory remarks prior to formally recognizing Brayer, the man who nominated him for the annual award — former Edmonds City Councilmember Dick Van Hollebeke — said he wanted to amend his nomination to include Bill’s wife, Carol Brayer. Carol was instrumental in supporting Brayer’s endeavor to start MS Helping Hands, a nonprofit that provides durable medical and mobility equipment for a minimum suggested donation, Van Hollebeke noted. And during the Brayers’ 34 years of marriage, she has also helped her husband through his own personal health issues, including multiple sclerosis, heart procedures, diabetes and — most recently — cancer treatment.
In fact, when a doctor finally told Bill that he had MS, after years of debilitating symptoms and misdiagnoses, Carol’s response was, “We have MS,” Van Hollebeke said. “Carol has been at Bill’s side through the good times and the bad.”
Brayer originally located the facility in the couple’s garage in 1998, then in 1999 moved it to warehouse space underneath the former Petosa’s Family Grocer (now Edmonds IGA) at 409 Howell Way. He retired as president of the organization in late 2012.
When it came time for the Brayers to take the microphone, Bill — who came to the luncheon in a wheelchair as he is undergoing post-cancer treatment therapy at a rehabilitation facility — thanked the Kiwanis Club, for the award, then immediately turned his attention to wife, who works three days a week in addition to helping him with his medical care. “There’s not enough I can say about Carol,” he said. “She has been at my side 150 percent of the time.”
The Edmonds Citizen of the Year is aimed at recognizing a civic-minded citizen active in civic affairs, community activities and/or business pursuits. It is open to individuals as volunteers or professionals in the line of duty. Next year, the Kiwanis Club plans to give out two awards: Citizen of the Year and Business of the Year, said Juliana Van Buskirk of the Kiwanis Club.
Two other 2013 nominees of note, according to Van Buskirk:
– Francine Cohen, a volunteer in many Edmonds organizations including the Second Hand Rose thrift shop, the Edmonds Senior Center, the Edmonds Museum and the Edmonds Log Cabin.
– Betty Mueller, volunteer for the Edmonds Museum, Edmonds Fire Safety Foundation and Edmonds Police Foundation, and co-chair of the committee that successfully passed a bond for the Public Safety Complex.
In addition to being feted at the luncheon, the Citizen of the Year is honored with a ride in Edmonds’ annual 4th of July parade, a fact not lost on this year’s winners. “All I can say is, I’m sure looking forward to that convertible ride,” Bill Brayer said.