The Jeannie Peeper Awards, named in honor of the IFOPA’s Founder, recognize those who make exceptional contributions to the worldwide FOP community through their leadership, service, fundraising, aware-ness building and other accomplishments.

Awards are given in the following categories:

President’s Lifetime Achievement
Outstanding Community Involvement: Individual
Outstanding Community Involvement: Group
Outstanding International Leadership
Inspiring Leadership

This year’s Outstanding Community Involvement Award: Group winner is the Gordon family from Claremore! You might be familiar with a little event called Zipper Q.

Community is something that means quite a lot to Amy Gordon and her family. Since 2012, husband Jacob, daughter Arlie, son Zip, and many more family and community members gear up to raise money to benefit the work of the IFOPA.

“When Zip was diagnosed with FOP, we were diagnosed as fundraisers at the exact same time,” Amy said. “There was no way I could not get involved, and I knew I had support from my family and community.”

When they found out Zip had FOP, Dr. Kaplan was there for the family instantly and the IFOPA quickly became a vital part of the Gordon’s lives. “Different people have different needs for support. For some it might be meeting with the doctors and researchers, or receiving up-to-date information on treatments. For me, it is connecting with the FOP family of people. The IFOPA is near and dear to my heart for offering support in so many different areas.”

Amy found inspiration from a mentor she met through the IFOPA who held a black tie gala in California. Since the Gordons knew their experience with galas was limited, Amy realized this wasn’t the type of event they would feel comfortable planning. The Gordons thought about what they knew best and they landed on BBQ and beer.

Zipper Q has turned into a must-attend event for over 4,000 people annually on the first weekend of October. Back in 2012, the generally mild Midwest fall turned into a drab weekend of sleet and cold temperatures. Their 22 BBQ competitor teams fought through the weather the entire weekend to keep their smokers going.

“Zip needed a nap close to event time and when I got back from the house, I was stunned. Cars were all over the place, 1,500 people came even though it was miserable. Everyone just wanted to be a part of something good,” Amy reflected.

With two full-time jobs, planning an event that has raised over $750,000 for the IFOPA to date, and serving as the IFOPA’s board chair, there is no question that Amy and her team deserve Jeannie Peeper’s Outstanding Community Involvement Award – Group.

“It is heartwarming to receive this award from the IFOPA. I’m very excited we, and so many people have helped along the way, are being recognized for our accomplishments,” Amy said.

Sometimes the Gordons don’t even know some of the people who devote countless hours to making their event a success.

For Arlie and Zip, their favorite aspect of Zipper Q is seeing all their friends. Zip also enjoys “being famous for a  day.” For Amy, it is hands down the pride in her community.

“The pride is overwhelming when you pull in on event day and see all the people. It is like your wedding and graduation rolled in to one. Everyone is giving back and doing their part, it is so humbling,” she concludes.

The IFOPA commends the Gordons, their extended family and community on pulling together to benefit the IFOPA in such a big way. They put forth a lot of hard work, while having a lot of fun.