It’s something she reminds her young son as he prepares to head off to school.
“I tell my son every day to be kind and be a good friend,” said Cori Rutherford, Vice President and General Manager of Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria, Ill. “I’m so honored to be able to tell him I received this award.”
Rutherford is the first woman and fourth person to receive the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce’s Friend of the Community Award. The award was created to honor people who are not East Peoria residents, but are deserving of recognition for their strong and valued support of the community.
The mother and native Illinoisan has worked diligently behind the scenes to better her community, one person, charity or event at a time. She is credited for helping Boyd Gaming team members be able to serve the community in ways that are personal to them as well as highly beneficial to the close-knit municipality.
“Working at Boyd Gaming, I can do what I’ve always done in helping others in my community,” Rutherford said. “It’s part of our culture and that makes it so easy to do the right thing within our community. I feel very lucky that our company believes so strongly in helping its team members with their volunteering efforts.”
The award came about from an idea by the late Jim Mamer, former president of the Fondulac Bank and member of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce.
“Jim knew everybody, and he wanted to honor those who were a big part of our community, even if they didn’t live here,” said Rick Swan, Executive Director of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce. “Cori is perfect for this award. She is the type of person who does a lot of things in East Peoria that she doesn’t want or will take recognition for. Par-A-Dice has helped so many non-profits and social agencies in the Tri-County area. She helps the community because she truly believes it’s the right thing to do.”
Rutherford was surprised and humbled by the award.
“Jim Mamer was an amazing guy so to be compared to someone like that is a great honor,” Rutherford said.
The honor comes as no surprise to the Mayor of East Peoria, John Kahl.
“Cori exemplifies the fine leadership and core values of Boyd Gaming,” Kahl said. “She has always played an active role in supporting numerous charitable organizations, participating in community events and enhancing the quality of life throughout this region. Cori is quick to give praise to others and has never been one to seek recognition for her good deeds, and, to me, that speaks to her excellent character. This award is well-deserved on her part, and we greatly appreciate all that Cori does on behalf of our community, as well as many others.”
Every member of the Par-A-Dice executive team serves on a community board and volunteers at area non-profits on a regular basis. This not only makes the community stronger, Rutherford said, but allows Boyd Gaming team members to be there when they are needed most.
“We know whether yardwork needs to be done at a local church or a group needs help wrapping presents for kids,” Rutherford said. “It’s such a reward and we make it easy for our team members to take time when needed to help our community. It’s such a big part of who we are.”