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NEWTON TWP. — The Board of Directors of Marley’s Mission announced the award recipients who will be honored at the Ninth Annual Blue Ribbon Gala. The event will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Hilton Scranton and Conference Center, 100 Adams Ave.

The Rebecca Haggerty Memorial Reins of Healing Award, named after the late Rebecca Haggerty, a former Marley’s Mission Board Member, is given from time to time, recognizing an individual who has demonstrated deep compassion, commitment and dedication to the work of Marley’s Mission, and most importantly, to the children it serves. This is the first year the award will be given and it will be presented to Gary Johnson, Springville, Susquehanna County.

Over the past several years, Johnson has dedicated thousands of hours to Marley’s Mission, serving as the leader of its Building and Grounds Committee and volunteer construction manager for the Mission’s new campus in Newton Township.

The Platinum Reins Award recognizes a business, corporation or individual whose financial support of the Blue Ribbon Gala and to the work of Marley’s Mission is momentous to the cause of building hope in children. This year’s recipient is Presenting Sponsor Arley Wholesale.

The Golden Bridle Award recognizes a corporation or business that has financially contributed to the success of Marley’s Mission by promoting awareness and making a significant difference in the life of a child. This year’s recipients are The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. and Sanofi Pasteur.

The Saddle of Hope Award recognizes an individual who has inspired members of Marley’s Mission and has made significant, positive impact in the lives of others. This year’s recipient is 21-year-old Kayla Whitney from Scranton. Whitney started at Marley’s Mission as an intern from Keystone College. Once she completed her internship hours, Whitney continued her commitment to Marley’s Mission by addressing the needs of clients who required transportation assistance to attend therapy sessions at the Mission.

The Spirit Reigns Award is designed to honor a dedicated young person under age 18 who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to Marley’s Mission. The award acknowledges the dedication and positive spirit of children who, by their actions, promote hope and healing. This year’s recipient is Maria Sacco, who over the summer did more than 100 hours of volunteer work on the farm. Her parents are May Jo and Pasquale Sacco.

The Blue Ribbon Award recognizes a volunteer who embodies selflessness and charity through time and extraordinary dedication to Marley’s Mission. This year’s recipients are Cody LaValley and Tom Eastman from Eastman Electric.

The Remembering Zachary Award is a special award in memory of Zachary, a beautiful 14-month-old boy who was a victim of child abuse. This award recognizes the passionate and tireless efforts of an individual who brings greater awareness to child abuse and the protection of children. This year’s recipients are Officers Aimee Redd, Gene Ruddy, Kyle Calvey, Tony Shields, Joe Kearney and Marcus Adams.

Tickets for the Gala are $125, and event proceeds will support the annual operations of Marley’s Mission, allowing all services to be provided free of charge to the children served by the organization.

Tickets may be purchased online at

Marley’s Mission is a non-profit organization based in Newton Township that provides equine-based therapy at no cost to children and their families who have experienced trauma. Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) has shown evidenced-based efficacy in patients who have experienced trauma and now suffer with depression, anxiety and other symptoms as a result.

To date, Marley’s Mission has treated more than 825 children in a 14-county area, including Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna, Monroe, Carbon, Wyoming, Columbia, Union, Lehigh, Philadelphia, York and Bucks counties, since opening its doors in 2010.

For more information about Marley’s Mission, visit