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Britta and Steve McKenna honored for contributions to Batavia

Published: Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 12:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 3:36 p.m. CDT

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BATAVIA – Britta and Steve McKenna continue to find ways to help Batavia.

As they were being honored Saturday as the Batavia Chamber of Commerce's 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year, Britta McKenna announced a campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the boardwalk at the Batavia Riverwalk.

"It is only through our collaborative hands that we can shape Batavia's future," Britta McKenna, former executive director of the Batavia MainStreet program, said in announcing the "Purchase a Plank" campaign and accepting the award.

The couple has been giving back to Batavia ever since moving to the city in 1991. One of the first activities Britta McKenna first became involved in was the Batavia Riverwalk Committee, which oversaw the construction of the riverwalk,

She became a volunteer board member of the Batavia Riverwalk Committee and served as its marketing director. A couple of years later, Steve McKenna joined the riverwalk committee as a board member and treasurer.

In 2000, the pair also served as founding board members of the Friends of the Riverwalk. Britta McKenna also helped spearhead an effort in 2008 to add a permanent band shell to the Peg Bond Center on the Batavia Riverwalk.

"I get my energy from the good people I surround myself with," Britta McKenna said.

The couple humbly accepted the award.

"We came to Batavia 21 years ago not to win awards, but participate in the community," Steve McKenna said. "For me, it's been easy to be involved in this community."

He served as one of the founders of Holy Cross Cub Scout Pack 121 in 1992. More recently, Steve McKenna helped lead 2011's Bulldogs Unleashed fundraising project.

Colorfully painted bulldog statues were on display in downtown Batavia as part of a fundraiser for the Batavia Public Library Foundation, the Batavia Parks Foundation and the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence.

For the couple, giving back to Batavia is a team effort.

"This is a team," Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said, in paying tribute to the couple. "They are almost interchangeable."

He also took note of the couple's parenting skills in raising their two sons, Kyle and Owen.

"If we can credit them for anything, they have done an extraordinary job in parenting," Schielke said.

Batavia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roger Breisch also recognized the couple's many contributions.

"Whenever Britta plans something, it always includes Steve," he said. "These are truly two extraordinary individuals. It was hard to keep up with Britta's ideas. It was sometimes intimidating."

The Batavia Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee of previous recipients of the award and is based on nominations from the community. The award is given for extraordinary contributions to the community over the course of the recipient’s lifetime.

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