Each year since 2002, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation has honored a member or members of the local community who have left footprints for others in the area of philanthropy and service.
Now known as the George B. Weaver, Jr. Footprints Award after its first recipient, this year Susan and Stephen Cobb of Fredonia were honored with the award at the 27th annual meeting of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation.
In their case, perhaps the award needs to be retitled the Bootprints Award. While both have served the community in a variety of ways, some of their best known activity has centered around the Quest backpacking program for middle school students. The couple are instructors and expedition leaders for the outdoor education program which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. More than 2,000 students have participated in the program.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Susan and Stephen Cobb are congratulated by some of their “adopted” children for receiving the Footprints Award. Left to right: Vince Ippolito, Alycia Ippolito, Susan, Stephen and AnnMarie Griffith. Griffith and the Ippolitos participated in the Quest program that the Cobbs lead.
A video prepared for the occasion highlighted the reasons why the Cobbs received the award.
In addition to the couple's sons, friends of the Cobbs spoke.
Ellen Foley commented about the Quest backpacking, saying the Cobbs worked with eighth graders for 25 years to "teach them how important the community and the environment are."
Fredonia Fire Chief Kurt Maytum recalled Stephen's role in teaching EMT classes. In addition he mentioned the Cobbs' role in influencing middle school students to "leave it (a place) better than you found it."
The couple accepted a picture of the Canadaway Creek near Forest Place. On the frame was a small engraved nameplate also specifying the award and the date.
Susan spoke first to thank the foundation for the award. She told the audience that she and Steve have been married for 42 years.
"I am honored to have this wonderful man as my partner," she said. She said he asked her to dance and that was the beginning for them. She was also grateful for her sons and for the many young people who became like her adopted children.
When Stephen spoke he said, "Life has a lot of quirks."
He said he asked Susan to dance because one of his friends bet him he couldn't get someone to accept. Another quirk was that his mother and George Weaver Jr. were classmates and friends. They often worked together and Weaver would sometimes come to his home. He hoped that both Weaver and his mom would be happy with the occasion.
Finally, he explained that he was grateful "for what this community gave to us."
During the reception, members of the community came up to congratulate the couple. The Cobbs were especially pleased that some of those they mentored attended.
Vince and Alycia Ippolito and AnnMarie Griffith were three offering their best wishes. Griffith, who was taking pictures using Susan's camera, explained that she is now a student at SUNY Oswego. She recalled the very real challenge of backpacking and the wonderful influence of the Cobbs.
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