Monday, May 20, 2013
Torrington Telegram
By Bud Patterson




Cotant receives Thomas Foundation award




Photo/ Bud Patterson
Callie Firminhac (from left), Susan Thomas, Marilyn and Rick Cotant, Cathy Marsh and Bo Moorehouse stand to congratulate Rick Contant on his Thomas Foundation Leadership Award.


TORRINGTON - At a surprise award assembly Wednesday at the Torrington Middle School, Assistant Principal Rick Cotant was presented with the Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation's Leadership Award.

According to a press release, the award "recognizes and honors an adult who champions the needs of young people in Wyoming."

Susan Thomas, the foundation director, was on hand to present Cotant with the award, a check for $2,500 and his own backpack in recognition of his efforts in starting the Goshen County School District No. 1 Backpack Program. The Backpack Program provides food, which is packed into backpacks, for kids and their families who qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program.

During her presenta- tion, Thomas said, "Rick Cotant lives the ideal of giving above and beyond to Wyoming's youth. He is the best of the best."

Cathy Marsh, who has known Cotant for 26 years and is herself a substitute teacher, nominated Cotant for the award.

"Rick is the most unselfish person I know," Marsh said. "He has bought shoes and eyeglasses for kids. He helps students who are struggling in school, and he is always willing to give a student the benefit of the doubt."

When Cotant first had the idea for the Backpack Program, he approached Marsh for help.

"He read an article about a lady in Denver who was supplying food to her students in school," Marsh recalled, "and he came to me and said he wanted to do the same thing for the kids in the middle school."

The Backpack Program started in the middle school but soon expanded to all the schools in Torrington and, starting this year, began serving all of the Goshen County schools.

Never one to bring attention to himself, Cotant praised the quality of the students he works with, and asked his wife, Marilyn, to join him at the podium when accepting the award.

"My wife deserves as much credit for this as I do," Cotant said. "She has been a force behind the Backpack Program and does more work on it than I do. I could not do it without her."

Torrington Middle School Principle Marv Haiman called Cotant the finest individual he has ever met and epitomizes the values of kindness and helping that the school tries to instill in its students.

According to a foundation spokesperson, Cotant was selected from 60 other Wyoming nominees for the award.

The Leadership Award is just one way the Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation helps and recognizes Wyoming students and adults who help them. The foundation has also established a statewide mentorship program and a scholarship program to help students who might otherwise not get to attend college.

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