The recipients of the annual Dr. Al Cade Beacon of Hope Service Awards were announced today during a brief ceremony at Missouri Southern State University.

Named in honor of Dr. Al Cade – the former dean of the College of Education who passed away in 2015 – the awards honor an individual student and a student group who have contributed an extraordinary level of dedication and demonstrated superior leadership through volunteer service on or off-campus. The 2022 recipients are Riley Laver and the Missouri Southern women’s softball team.

Laver is a senior international business major. A nomination letter written on her behalf describes her as “being involved and outstanding both on and off-campus … While it sounds like she has her days booked, she still uses every amount of free time volunteering in the community and on campus.”

Her volunteer efforts have included work at Soul’s Harbor, Petco, Watered Gardens, the Joplin Humane Society and at local churches. On-campus, she is an Honors Program student who also serves as a Lion Ambassador, captain of the women’s soccer team, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.

“Coming to Joplin, I didn’t realize how much power giving people your time could have,” said Laver. “I just figured if I had time I might as well do something useful with it. I’m so grateful to have met so many amazing people. They have all inspired me to keep trying to make an impact in the world.”

This is the second year in a row the Missouri Southern Softball team has won the award. Collectively over the 2021 spring and fall semesters, the softball program racked up 350 hours of community service that averaged out to 19.4 hours per student-athlete.

The team helped clean up the Grand Falls, helped with the Walk to End Alzheimers and the Ronald McDonald House Big Red Shoe Run, as well as many other events within the Joplin Area.

“I am very proud of our student-athletes for sacrificing their time and energy for the SWMO Community,” said head softball coach Hallie Blackney. “We believe in being champions in the classroom, in the community, and on the field. Lions everywhere can be proud of who this team is.”