Arkansan of the Year

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Photography by Dero Sanford

 width=   Rick Fleetwood is admired for his civic leadership and beloved for his generous + gregarious spirit. With a reputation that often precedes him – he’s the life of every party – Rick’s devotion to countless organizations secures his legacy in Central Arkansas. Easterseals Arkansas will recognize Rick as Arkansan of the Year for his tireless pursuit of a more equitable future filled with endless possibilities.

   Rick realized his heart for service during his childhood in Monette, Arkansas, participating in the church youth group. “I was taught that you cared for your brother and those with special needs. From an early age throughout church, high school, college, military and public life – it’s always been a part of my DNA to care for our fellow man.” He carefully considers organizations that improve the quality of life for those facing obstacles. “The team at Easterseals Arkansas is dedicated to providing quality services while promoting dignity, equality and independence. And the results are measurable. This is why I’m all in and support Easterseals Arkansas.”

   Arkansan of the Year Chairmen Tiffany and Daniel Robinson have witnessed the results of Rick’s kindness. Tiffany elaborates, “Rick has given to so many organizations across the state, but I know Easterseals has a special place in his heart. I can see his connection with the children and adults that are served by Easterseals.” Daniel adds, “He does so much more than what the public ever sees. If you walk through Easterseals with him, he knows the kids and they know him. That doesn’t happen because he donated money or been to events. That happens because he is there, he truly cares and he has put his heart into it.”

 width=   Rick believes community service should be a priority for everyone. “Do not negate your role and responsibility to your fellow man. God gives us seven days a week and 24 hours a day – do not waste any of that time. We all have something to contribute. Go out there and do good in any and all ways that you possibly can.” He leads by example and draws inspiration from the clients that Easterseals Arkansas serves. “I see those facing unimaginable barriers who at the end of the day strive to better themselves. Every day is a miracle and either you see them or you don’t. When you do see those everyday miracles, the world seems a little bit better place to live.”

   Serving individuals from birth through adulthood, Easterseals offers programs to help individuals live longer, healthier and more independent lives. From child development centers to physical rehabilitation and job training, the organization offers a variety of services that develop personal potential. It has pioneered these efforts since 1944, providing clients with the resources to be more self-reliant and achieve their dreams.

   As he reflects on this unwavering commitment to the community, it’s a shared humanity that brings Rick confidence; his contemporaries, like Tiffany and Daniel, will continue this important work. “I believe in the kindness that’s in every heart. Never forget that we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than us. Get out there and make a difference.”

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