Sister Antona named St. John XXIII Award recipient
Gerald Baldner, Mike Gostomski, Sister Antona Schedlo, and Don and Roxanne Weber, all of whom have a long history of serving others and giving back to their communities, will be presented with the Viterbo University Saint John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service at a banquet and ceremony in the Fine Arts Center Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The Saint John XXIII Award is the highest non-academic award bestowed by Viterbo University. Recipients are chosen on the basis of contributions in one or several of the following categories: education, business, philanthropy, peace and justice, and religious life. The 2022 recipients:
Gerald Baldner feels that he has been truly blessed in his life and giving back to the community is a natural part of success. For many years, Baldner and his wife Betty have been supporters of Rainbow Network, an organization that provides health care, education, and small business assistance in Nicaragua, Gundersen Health System’s Global Partners, and Junior Achievement. Baldner has served as president of the boards of Horse Sense, Clearwater Farm, and the La Crosse Children’s Museum. He was also a member of the Gundersen Medical Center allocations board and the La Crosse Downtown Main Street board. The Baldners have provided financial support to the Amie L. Mathy Center for Recreation and Education, the La Crosse Children’s Museum, and Downtown Main Street. Baldner taught at Viterbo from 1978–83 and has been an advocate for the university ever since. He has attended countless Viterbo athletic events and created a scholarship for members of the men’s basketball team. He was inducted onto the Viterbo Athletics Wall of Fame in 2001. Serving three full terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, Baldner was honored with the title of Trustee Emeriti for his outstanding service to the university. An entrepreneur at heart, Baldner started and ran several very successful businesses, including Kitchen Solvers, Cabinet Factory (now WalzCraft), Creative Laminates, and Counter Creations. He has written three books and serves as a public speaker on a variety of topics.
Mike Gostomski knows firsthand the value of Catholic education and he has provided tremendous support to Catholic universities, high schools, elementary schools, and students. The president and CEO of Winona Heating and Ventilating (the company at which he started working at the age of 12 sweeping floors) and one of the five founders of the Fastenal Corporation, he created the Gostomski Family Foundation to help others. He and his foundation have fully sponsored (including travel, tuition, and room and board) 15 students from Poland to attend his alma mater, Saint Mary’s University in Winona. It has also paid the tuition for Jamaican students attending a Catholic school in their home country. The athletics fieldhouse at Saint Mary’s bears his surname because of the gift from he and wife Joette that made the facility possible. At Viterbo University, Gostomski has supported numerous initiatives, including the construction of the School of Nursing Building and engineering lab, the renovation of the Outdoor Athletics Complex, and the creation of the Boys & Girls Club Pathway program. Gostomski is a lifelong resident of Winona and he has been a civic leader and ambassador for the city. He also supports several other Winona organizations. Gostomski was a longtime member of the Fastenal Board of Directors and the Saint Mary’s University Board of Trustees, including a term as the chair. Saint Mary’s presented him with an honorary doctorate degree and its Heritage Award.
Sister Antona Schedlo:
A member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Antona Schedlo spent most of three decades amidst poverty and civil war in El Salvador where she served people in desperate need of her help. A staunch advocate for the poor and marginalized, Sister Schedlo risked her life fighting injustice and performing educational and pastoral work. Her ministry in El Salvador was the fulfillment of a longtime goal of becoming a missionary. Sister Schedlo called the day she left for El Salvador “the happiest day of her life.” Four missionaries, including three Catholic Sisters, and 13 priests would be murdered in the country during her service there. The story of Sister Schedlo’s time in El Salvador is recorded in the book Memoir of a Gringa Missionary: A Dream Fulfilled. Later, Sister Schedlo was one of the founders of Centro Latino in La Crosse, an organization that provides information about a variety of services available to the Latino community, including English as a second language classes, translation and interpreting services, and medical, legal, employment, housing, food, and clothing resources. She is a member of the Coulee Region Immigration Task Force, a group whose mission is to welcome, advocate, and educate in the service of new, recent, and established immigrants. Also having served as a volunteer at Place of Grace Catholic Worker House and the Salvation Army, Sister Schedlo said “You will only be happy if you think of others and not just yourself.”
Watch WXOW "Viterbo University names 2022 Saint John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service winners" to learn more about Sister Antona.
Don and Roxanne Weber:
Don and Roxanne Weber feel very blessed to be able to give back to others what’s been given to them. A self-described “farm boy and Marine,” Don overcame bad choices early in his career to rise from living on the streets to founding Logistics Health Incorporated, a company he would grow to employ more than 2,000 employees tasked with designing, implementing, and managing health and wellness programs for the U.S. Department of Defense and other clients through a national network of providers. He would later sell the company. The Webers have provided tremendous support for numerous projects and scholarships at Viterbo University, including the School of Nursing Building and the Weber Center for the Performing Arts (so named to inspire others to give). One of the towers of the nursing facility bears the name of Don’s beloved mother, Rita M. Hammes. Many local organizations have also received their assistance, including the United Way of La Crosse, Gundersen Health System, and Mayo Clinic Health System. Providing good jobs to people in the region has been one of their most important accomplishments. Don served 393 days as a Marine rifleman in the Vietnam War and getting veterans the services and help they’ve earned is especially important to him. Strong believers in the tenants “faith, family, serving others, and perseverance,” the Webers know the most precious gift anyone can give is of themselves and their time. “Our purpose is to help others,” Don said.