Baker & Veldman earn the 70th B’nai B’rith Award

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Roanoke, VA(WFXR) – Lord Botetourt’s Miette Veldman and William Byrd’s Logan Baker earn the female and male 70th B’nai B’rith Athletic and Achievement Award. Baker also earned the Artie Levin Personal Life Award. Veldman was a 3 time state volleyball champion and a 2 time state basketball champion for the Cavaliers. She is set to play volleyball at James Madison this fall. Baker played football, basketball, baseball and track for the Terriers. He will play football at Christopher Newport. Born in 1951, the B’nai B’rith Athletic and Achievement Award was conceived by a
small number of Roanoke’s Jewish community who were also members of the international
organization known as B’nai B’rith. The award was intended to recognize area male high school
seniors who excelled in athletics, scholarship and citizenship. As female high school students
became more involved in interscholastic sports, they were added in 1976 as Award recipients.
The Award fit well with the mission of B’nai B’rith. It is a worldwide Jewish
organization that institutes and administers programs designed to promote social, educational and
cultural betterment for both Jews and the public at large. Notably, the first winner of the B’nai
B’rith Athletic and Achievement Award in what was then a segregated Roanoke school system
was a student from Addison High School.
Included among those who created the Award was Artie Levin. He later became known
to all who watched local television as Mr. Fitness. Artie was also an avid community activist.
Hence, in 1997, the Artie Levin Personal Life Award was created in his memory. That award
underscores the essential contribution that community service makes to society.
Bob “Guts” McClelland was also instrumental. A well-known sportswriter for the
Roanoke World-News and legendary sandlot football coach for whom the football field at
Victory Stadium was later named, he played a vital role in publicizing the Award to the general
public. Through the combined efforts of these and the other founders of the Award and the work
of those who followed, the B’nai B’rith Athletic and Achievement Award has become a
preeminent honor for deserving high school seniors at the many high schools in and around the
Roanoke and New River Valleys that nominate female and male seniors for the Award.
Through the years, a succession of dedicated individuals oversaw the management of the
B’nai B’rith Athletic and Achievement Award. This group recognized, however, that in order to
make certain that the future of the Award is secure, steps should be taken to ensure its viability
and continuation. Therefore, in 2019, at their request, the Roanoke Jewish Federation agreed to
assume responsibility for continuing the Award in the manner envisioned by its founders. As the
mission of the RJF is to promote and foster relations between the Jewish community and the
community at large, it is also a natural fit.
Therefore, starting with the 70th anniversary year in which the B’nai B’rith Athletic and
Achievement Award is presented, the name of the Award has been changed to the “B’nai B’rith
Athletic and Achievement Award Sponsored by the Roanoke Jewish Federation.” The RJF has
committed itself to maintaining the Award in the manner in which it has always been given so
that deserving high school seniors who excel in athletics, scholarship and citizenship will
continue to be recognized and their names placed among the superstars who came before them.

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