Rotarians Honor Mark and Debbie Staggs as 2017 Citizens of the Year

by Pat Moynahan on August 25, 2017

Debbie and Mark Staggs

Debbie and Mark Staggs

FLORENCE – No one was surprised when Mark Staggs turned attention at the Florence Rotary Citizen of the Year ceremony to Special Olympics volunteers.

The Rotarians honored Mark and Debbie Staggs as 2017 Citizens of the Year for their 27 years of leadership of the Special Olympics of Northern Kentucky at a luncheon on Monday, Aug. 14. The Staggs have overseen the growth of the program from seven, one-day events to 17 sports with seasonal schedules.

When Mark Staggs stepped to the podium after the couple accepted the award, he asked Special Olympics volunteers in attendance to raise their hands and be recognized.

“That’s what it takes,” he said, pointing to well-wishers who came to celebrate with the Staggs. “They are 100% volunteers. They don’t get paid. They’re accountable and they’re responsible.”

State Sen. John Schickel (R-Union), who nominated the Staggs, said the Florence couple reflect Rotary Club mantras of service above self and self-less service. Both hold full-time jobs, Mark at Sam Adams Brewery and Debbie at Gray Middle School. Both are active in their church and devote hundreds of hours every year to community service.

“When I think of Mark and Debbie Skaggs, I think of those two things: service above self and flying under the radar,” Schickel said.

“They go so far beyond what most of us do. They don’t really seek any recognition.”

Schickel said what has most impressed him about the Staggs over the years has been their devotion to their own family. They had three special needs children, but the children were always happy and well cared for.

Caring for their children led the Staggs into volunteer work with Special Olympics. Debbie began volunteering because their son John enjoyed the activities so much. She enlisted Mark to set up tables at an event and soon both were immersed in leading and expanding Special Olympics in Northern Kentucky.

“We wanted more … wanted something more (for the children) to do year around,” Mark said. “It’s all about friends. Our athletes make friends.”

The Florence Rotary Club presented a $1,000 check to the Staggs, who donated it to Special Olympics. They also received citations from the Kentucky Senate and Kentucky House of Representatives. Both were named Kentucky Colonels and Boone County designated August 14 as Mark and Debbie Staggs Day.