- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2016

Lowell and America Callahan of Wheatland, Calif., were named the 2016 Parents of the Year during a ceremony in Washington this month.

The Callahans were among 12 couples named as finalists for this year’s award and were officially honored during an event at The Washington Times headquarters last Friday.

(CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 2016 EXEMPLARY PARENTS IN AMERICA)

Over the course of their 37-year marriage, the Callahans have fostered several special needs children, adopting four of them — in addition to raising seven of their own biological children.

Both husband and wife are devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ - Latter Day Saints, and have served as Sunday school teachers. They are also members of the Wheatland Lions Club.

Mr. Callahan works professionally as a general contractor and air-conditioning mechanic, and also grows fruit and produce on the couple’s property in Yuba County.

Mrs. Callahan, meanwhile, has operated a local business store since 2011 — America’s Emporium and Thrift – which caters to the area’s senior citizen community.

“The store serves as a gathering place for local senior citizens, and if any seniors need a ride to a doctor’s appointment, America will find a way to take them there, even if it means closing the store for an hour or two,” The Washington Times reported when the couple was profiled last month upon being named as finalists for this year’s award. “She passionately believes in the value of sacrificing oneself for the sake of others and has lived her life accordingly.”

In a 2005 interview with the Sacramento Bee, Mrs. Callahan discussed the trial and tribulations of raising a special needs child, Amy, who was given only three days to live by doctors after being born with Edwards syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality with a low survival rate.

“Society thinks these children are a burden. Until you have one yourself, you don’t realize it’s a labor of love,” Mrs. Callahan said at the time. “She has taught us so much and she doesn’t even speak. She has taught us compassion. She has taught us appreciation. She has taught us unconditional love.”

In a Facebook post penned following Friday’s ceremony, Mrs. Callahan admitted to being caught completely off guard upon being awarded this year’s honor.

“[I] did not even know we had won when we were on the stage,” Mrs. Callahan wrote. “I am glad; I would have cried and [made] a fool of myself.”

“So awesome, thank you so much. I want to send thank you to the people that voted for us,” she wrote.

Emiljun Rapada of the Universal Peace Federation, an organizer of the 22nd annual Parents’ Day banquet, said it was “an honor to celebrate the exemplary couples who genuinely gave and sacrifice everything for their families and community.”

“Seeing everyone’s face with either a big smile or tears of joy made all the work we did, starting from the nomination process, selection and finally to the awards celebration, all worth it,” Mr. Rapada said in a statement.

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