Called an unsung hero, Falkenheiner caught off guard with Spirit of Steckler award

Published 9:02 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

NATCHEZ — A very surprised Kim Falkenheiner was awarded the prestigious Spirit of Steckler Award at the 38th Annual Natchez Balloon Festival Friday night.

Falkenheiner was so surprised she could not speak amid her tears.

The Spirit of Steckler Award is presented each year to a community volunteer who is an “unsung hero” and who is someone who gives of him or herself unselfishly and expects nothing in return, said Peter Burns of the festival committee.

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“The Natchez Balloon Festival does not happen without an army of volunteers who give of their time year after year to make this festival the best it can be while also benefiting a non profit organization, the Historic Natchez Foundation,” Burns said.

Falkenheiner is “a remarkable individual whose dedication to community and philanthropy has left and indelible mark on the Natchez Balloon Festival and the Miss Lou area,” he said. “For more than two decades, she has been a pillar of support for the Natchez Balloon Festival. Volunteering her tie, expertise and boundless enthusiasm, her unwavering commitment has not only enabled the festival’s success but has also created a sense of community and belonging among its attendees.”

In addition to her work with the balloon festival, Falkenheiner is also a volunteer at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, Day Dream Foundation and Sadie’s Search. She is a founding member of Tutus for Tatas breast cancer fundraiser and she serves as membership chair for the Krewe of Phoenix.

“Her spirit shines brightly with her tireless volunteerism, her dedication to community and her ability to inspire positive change,” Burns said.

Falkenheiner joins a long list of people who have been honored for their work with the Spirit of Steckler Award. They include:

• The Steckler Family

• Peter Burns

• Don Gardner

• Ed and Laura Godfrey

• Sally Durkin

• Charles Feltus

• Ralph “Trippey” Shields

• Babs Price

• Ken Price

• Stephen Guido

• Suzan Hogue

• David Cauthen

• Melody Fuqua

• Rick Freeman

• John and Sharon Goodrich

• Maria Lambert

• Chris Trippe

• Rachel Lott

• Scott Adams

• Sam Kirby

• Ron and Mimi Miller

• and Curtis Moroney.

Falkenheiner received a Spirit of Steckler plaque and her name will be added to the perpetual plaque, which is on display at the Historic Natchez Foundation.

Balloonist and long-time friends of the Steckler family, Pat and Carol Canon, donate the award each year.