by Ardis Bazyn

The Vendor of the Year Award is given to a person who has been an active vendor for at least five years. This year's Vendor of the Year Award goes to Dan Sippl.

Dan became a blind vendor in the Business Enterprise Program in 1999 and became an RSVA member in 2000. He was elected to the RSVA board in 2005, and currently is the chair of the elected committee of blind vendors in his state.

At the age of 20, after a back injury and surgery, Dan became an auto mechanic for Montgomery Ward and later a service manager for Schmidt Oil Company.

The spinal injury and declining vision due to retinitis pigmentosa gave him the impetus to work for the Wisconsin state government as a consumer protection investigator for 21 years until the RP impaired his reading ability. For several years he created arts and crafts out of wood as well.

Civic activities include: past president of the Eau Claire Area Art League, past president of Eau Claire Golden K Kiwanis Club, past secretary of the Wisconsin Elected Committee of Blind Vendors, and currently chair of that committee.

The Jennings Randolph Service Award is presented to someone who has given his or her time and energy to the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America, but who is not an active vendor. This year the Jennings Randolph Award was presented to Hazel Harmon of California.

Hazel has truly lived up to the meaning of "dedicated." She is a hard-working, energetic individual who is always willing to help where needed. This recipient gives 110 percent to every task, and is truly committed to RSVA.

She deserves this prestigious award for all the hard, tedious work she has done for RSVA's publication, "The Vendorscope." We commend her for making our auction a huge success with her articulate descriptions of each item being auctioned. She is a dedicated RSVA volunteer and truly cares about blind vendors; in fact, she's married to a blind vendor.

Don Cameron did an outstanding job of advocating for his fellow blind and visually impaired peers. The award named for him has three criteria: 1. The nominee must be either a current or former member of RSVA; 2. The nominee must have been a vendor for at least 20 years, and 3. The nominee should be a vendor who is seeking to improve the goals of RSVA as well as promoting awareness of the blind in his or her community, state and nation. This year's Don Cameron Award recipient is Dan Dwyer of Illinois.

Dan has truly lived up to the meaning of advocacy, as well as service and dedication in his state. Last year he attended his first national convention. He has been a vendor for 21 years. He has served on the Illinois State Elected Committee for the past eight years, and never says "no" when he is asked to advocate for another vendor or take on a new project. He was a key person who worked hard to make lottery machines user- friendly for our blind vendors who have them in their retail establishments.

He enjoys the hands-on role of an advocate and is best known in the state of Illinois for the concern he demonstrated with one blind vendor, Allan Sugar, who is both blind and deaf. Sugar was the recipient of Dan's hard work in making sure that he had all of the tools and skills needed to make his facility a success.

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