25th Annaul Judd and Barbara Jacobson Awards Winners Announced

Gaelynn Lea Tressler, Cheryl Bemel and Bob Wilsie receive award

For 25 years, the Judd and Barbara Jacobson Award has recognized the pursuit or achievement of a business entrepreneurial endeavor by a person with a physical disability or sensory impairment.

The award is named for Judd Jacobson, the late Minnesota business leader who became a quadriplegic because of a diving accident and his wife Barbara. Both are the founders of Flying Wheels Travel.

The winner of the $10,000 award is Gaelynn Lea Tressler from Duluth, Minn. Since 2013, Gaelynn has been a private fiddle instructor through her business Gaelynn Lea Music. An accomplished fiddler, she won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Concert contest in March 2016. Gaelynn and her husband Paul began touring full-time about a year ago.

The money from the award will enable Gaelynn to hire a publicist for five months of her busiest 2018 tour schedule.

The winner of the first $5,000 award is Cheryl Bemel from Mendota Heights, Minn. To build up her body to combat symptoms of Lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome and Reynold’s disease, Cheryl created her own exercise program which included bicycling. Because she often like to bike after work, Cheryl developed PsycoLights, an LED device that provides safety for people who like to bike, skateboard and snowboard after dark.

Cheryl plans to use the money from the award to complete production design work and place an initial order of 1,000 lights for a planned spring 2018 launch.

The second $5,000 award winner is Bob Wilsie from Blaine, Minn. His work focuses on handcrafted, hardwood guitars and ukuleles. Bob will use the award money to purchase equipment needed to reduce production time and cover expenses until sufficient income is generated through sales.

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